grilled pepper and torn mozzarella panzanella

This salad is not here to break the internet. Even among my friends, roasted sweet red peppers seem to be a perplexingly hard sell, although I hope all roasted pepper resistors are not basing their impressions on the jarred ones — those slippery things shouldn’t even rank. Because it’s the year 2017, I’m sure at least half of the people we know at any given time aren’t eating bread, so that’s not going to go over well either. I’m not sure why people — even my own father — loathe capers, but I bet I will soon find out. I understand that lots of people don’t like onions, even marinated and grilled lovelies, in salads. I know we all agree on mozzarella, at least. (Phew.)

what you'll needtossed with oil, salt, and pepperpeppers and onions smell amazingget a lot of char on itgrilled breadpeppers, mostly peeled

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years writing recipes and sending them out into the world, it’s that not all dishes will stop everyone in our tracks and cause us to reroute our entire day to ensure it ends with this. Not all dishes elicit, or need to elicit, popular fervor.


mix it up

But do know that I love this enough for me and you and everyone else. This is one of my favorite things I’ve made in quite some time and in the years before I finally got this the way I wanted, it gnawed at me. I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to put it together. It’s one part my mother in-laws pickled garlicky red peppers. It’s one part this mozzarella roasted red pepper salad we used to get at a local restaurant before they changed it. It’s one part panzanella, a Tuscan salad with croutons that usually shows off summery things like tomatoes. And it’s one part this Alison Roman (anyone else excited about her book? I am, I am) recipe from Bon Appetit, which is how the chives and sherry vinegar got here. And it’s one part that time of the year when all meals cooked outside taste infinitely better than those cooked on a stove. I hope you agree. And if you do not, I will take all of your leftovers in a heartbeat. I’m going to be eating this all summer.

grilled pepper and torn mozzarella panzanella

Previously

Panzanellas and bread salads, previously:Summer’s Last Hurrah Panzanella, Spring Panzanella, Winter Panzanella,Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons, Corn Bread Salad, and Summer Succotash with Bacon and Croutons.

One year ago:Cucumber Yogurt Raita Salad and Chicken Gyro Salad
Two years ago:Swirled Berry Yogurt Popsicles and Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes
Three years ago:Carrot Salad with Tahini and Crispy Chickpeas
Four years ago:Lobster and Potato Salad
Five years ago:Tzatziki Potato Salad and Rhubarb Snacking Cake
Six years ago:Strawberry Summer Cake and Spring Salad with New Potatoes
Seven years ago:Mushroom Crepe Cake, Braided Lemon Bread, Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint, and Rustic Rhubarb Tarts
Eight years ago:Almond-Raspberry Layer Cake, Asparagus, Lemon and Goat Cheese Pasta, and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Nine years ago:Martha’s Macaroni and Cheese, Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies, and Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Ten years ago:Cellophane Noodle Salad with Roasted Pork and Coconut Pinkcherry Yogurt

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago:Spinach Sheet Pan Quiche
1.5 Years Ago:Pecan Pie, Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes, Date Breakfast Squares, Parsley Pecorino Biscuits, and Potato Kugel
2.5 Years Ago:Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce, Crispy Sweet Potato Roast, and Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble
3.5 Years Ago:Cauliflower with Brown Butter Crumbs, Parsley Leaf Potatoes, and Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Frosting
4.5 Years Ago:Cauliflower Feta Fritters with Pomegranate and Cashew Butter Balls

Grilled Pepper and Torn Mozzarella Panzanella

Further ideas: Throw a fresh hot pepper into the grilling mix for a spicy salad. You could also stir in an ounce of thinly sliced spicy salami into the final salad.

    To grill
  • 4 1-inch slices bread, country-style
  • 3 large red bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • To finish
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons capers, drained (rinsed if salted)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces, or 4 ounces bocconcini
  • Fresh herbs — snipped chives, basil, or parsley or a mix thereof — to finish (optional)

Prepare vegetables: Place bread, pepper halves, and onion wedges in a large bowl and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil, then sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt and many grinds (or about 1/4 teaspoon) black pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together until oil coats everything.

To grill: Heat your grill to medium-high, or if yours is small and dinky like mine, high heat. Spread peppers and onions across grill grates and grill, lid down, flipping as needed, until onions are charred in spots (they’ll be done first) and peppers are blistered and blackened in many spots and beginning to soften. Transfer onions to a plate as they’re done; transfer peppers to a bowl. Use bread in bowl to swipe up any excess salt, pepper, and/or oil in it and place slices on grill. Grill until toasted on both sides. Transfer to plate with onions.

No grill? You can do all of the above under your broiler, or in your oven at 450 degrees F. Broilers vary wildly in how robust their heat is, so keep an eye on it. Vegetables tend to take longer in the oven, up to 40 minutes, but check in at 20 to be safe. In both cases, turn vegetables and bread as needed to get an even color.

Marinate peppers: Place foil or a lid over peppers in bowl to trap heat. Once they’re cool enough to handle, remove as much of the skin as you can. This is unquestionably the most annoying part so do only as much as would bother you to have to eat. (For me, this is almost every speck but you’re probably less crazy.) Cut peppers into 1/2- to 1-inch wide strips.

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (and more to taste), and garlic. Add capers. Add peppers to bowl and let them marinate for as little as 5 minutes or up to a day, even. The longer they souse, the more pickled they’ll taste. After 5 minutes, however, they still have plenty of flavor.

To assemble and serve: Shortly before you’re ready to eat the salad, add onions to the bowl with the peppers. Tear bread into chunks and add to bowl, along with mozzarella. Mix gently, making sure the dressing coats the bread. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Finish with herbs and serve in big heaps.

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