My week has been… more than a little crazy, but one very high point was Wednesday night’s getting-to-know-you barbecue with the lovely folks we rent from and the newest tenant at the house. Mike provided one of his fabulous grilled chickens, and I made two contributions. First, this white bean and red pepper dip with lots of fresh summer veggies – a little something to nosh on while the grilling took place (and while we enjoyed drinks and conversation).
My second contribution was something I was really happy with – a grilled bread panzanella with peaches and basil. I’ve been in love with the combination of peaches and basil since last summer, and have been even more in love with adding grilled wholegrain bread cubes to summer salads lately, so this was a natural combination of both. I dressed it in a mixture of good balsamic vinegar, some citrus champagne vinegar, local honey, sea salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and our very best olive oil, and it was a hit – a fun change from the standard tomato panzanella and definitely something I’ll make again.
Grilled Bread Salad with Peaches and Basil
3-4 1-inch thick slices of hearty multigrain boule (I used Seven Stars multigrain, but any hearty multi will do)
1-2 tablespoons each aged balsamic and champagne vinegar
Kosher or sea salt plus freshly ground black pepper
a heaping teaspoon of local honey
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to rub on the bread
2 fat ripe peaches
2 cups loosely packed whole basil leaves
flaky sea salt (like Maldon) for finishing
Rub the bread slices with olive oil on both sides and grill them over the cool side of a grill (you can also run them under a broiler or use a grill pan for this) until they are nicely toasted. Set aside to cool slightly, then cut into about 1 inch chunks. Add the vinegars to a large bowl with a good pinch of salt and several grindings of pepper. Whisk in the honey and the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Cut the peaches into chunks of about the same size as the bread cubes, and toss them with the dressing. Add the bread cubes and the basil leaves, tossing just before serving, and finishing with a sprinkle of flaky salt and additional pepper, if desired.