Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grilled Italian Bread Salad with Basil and Feta

I'll let you in on a secret, only if you promise not to laugh:  I haven't been using my barbecue throughout most of the summer.  Not since propane ran out while I was cooking this salmon, in fact.  Silly, I know, but I have a fear of changing propane tanks.  Sillier still, I work with natural gas on a daily basis and have lit my fair share of pilot lights.  Heck, I even know what a thermal coupler is! 

Nope, that tank was empty all summer.  You maybe even wondered why I wasn't featuring more grilled dishes, but were too polite to ask.  Given that there's no man action around the place to take care of such jobs, I had to suck up my crazy phobia and figure it out, eventually. 

Not sure why I thought changing a propane tank was so darn complicated, or why I had visions of myself being blown to smithereens, but in the end all I had to do was unscrew the tank (thanks to Tara's bf for giving such an excellent demo!).  That was the easy part!  Trucking it to Canadian Tire, while it rolled around in the trunk, freaked me out big time.  Driving with a full tank of propane in the passenger seat, also super freaky!  Home re-attached to the barbecue, not so freaky.   Whew!  That was intense.  And all so I could make this salad.

When I was first learning to cook for myself, way way back then, I ate this salad, or a version of it, loads.  Who knew toasted stale bread with heaps of fresh tomatoes and basil could be so delicious?  Plus I was a student and perpetually broke, so this cheap and cheerful salad kind of made my summer.  Years later, it still does.


Grilled vegetables and feta add a more sophisticated turn to the salad.  Everywhere I look I see zucchini (still!) so I grilled that up, and some red onion too. (I'm super happy my barbecue is back in business!)  But peppers, eggplant would also be fabulous.  Tossed with heaps of glorious tomatoes and scattered with my favourite herb, this salad is a lovely way to showcase the best of the best vegetables.  Switch things up and add goat cheese and other herbs too.  Just be sure not to use junky white bread.  Get thee to a good bakery and buy a nice crusty loaf of Italian, or baguette, or even sourdough.  The bread I used had whole cloves of roasted garlic in it - amazing stuff.  Rustic and fresh, with all kinds of flavours running around,  this salad was totally worth the freaky drive with the propane tank in the passenger seat.

Grilled Italian Bread Salad with Basil and Feta

2 small zucchini sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 small red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 red or yellow pepper, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
4 slices Italian bread, preferable day old, 1 inch thick
4 tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil

Preheat your barbecue to  medium.  Brush the vegetables with 1 tbsp of oil.  Lightly oil the grill and barbecue the vegetables, turning often until tender, 3 minutes or so.  Remove each piece as it is done.  Grill the bread until it is toasted, about 2 minutes per side.  Chop the bread and vegetables, combine with tomatoes in large bowl.  Whisk remaining oil with garlic and balsamic vinegar, seasoning it with salt and pepper.  Drizzle over bread mixture, tossing to coat.  Transfer to platter and scatter the feta and basil.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.  Adapted from Chatelaine. 

And lastly, aren't my Lemon Boy tomatoes just lovely?  They taste super sweet, and were perfect in this salad.


  1. You should be very proud of your tomatoes- they look fantastic! I'm seriously craving Panzanella now. Lovely post. Glad you didn't get blown up. :)

  2. I too have a fear of anything that can possibly blow me up - so congrats! Lovely photos!

  3. We have our own Propane issues as you well know!! This salad looks so delish! Cute profile pic as well Renee :)

  4. Wow! This salad looks amazing Renee! Your tomatoes really shine. I want a big bowl of it right now.

  5. Look gorgeous. Your tomatoes are doing much better than mine ...

  6. Lovely! We are thinking on the same wavelength -- tomato bread salad. Yum.

  7. this looks incredible! so delicious i can imagine the bread soaking up all the tomato juice! btw, did you end up making the avo + egg on toast?! hope it was good!
    im with you on the propane tank phobia thing...i prob would've avoided the grill all summer too if no one would do it for me ;) but i guess a girls gotta suck it up and learn sooner or later haha. good on you!

  8. Those tomatos are gorgeous- I've never heard of the Lemon Boy variety but it sounds terrific. And lovely looking salad! I know what you mean about your propane paranoia- I feel the same way. I'm just never going to be comfortable around a combustible gas.

  9. Beautiful photos and so good-looking salad! I could almost taste it only by looking at the photos! Thanks for sharing!

  10. That looks like a big bowl of all my favorite things! Yum!

  11. Thank you everyone for your sweet comments - glad I'm not the only one propane paranoia! Viv, I'm going to make your avocado and egg on toast for Sunday morning...sounds delish. Shelley, the lemon boy tomatoes are worth searching for - small and sweet!

  12. Love bread salad but have yet to make any this year! I need to rectify that posthaste.

  13. Basil is a healthy addition to the meal. You can have it for a nutritious dish.


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