Hope y’all had a great Labor Day weekend and soaked up plenty of those end-of-summer vibes. Although we’re definitely embracing the feeling of fall that’s suddenly in the air around here, end-of-summer produce is still in full force. Since these balmy September evenings are the perfect time to make the most of the eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, and herbs still overflowing at the market, we’ve got the perfect panzanella recipe to help you do it. And may I highly suggest taking it for a spin at an impromptu “goodbye summer” dinner party this weekend?
*photos by Lucy Cuneo, recipe by Chef Michael Toscano of Le Farfalle
When Chanel and I were in Charleston last month, we fell head-over-heels in love with Le Farfalle, the farm-to-table Italian restaurant owned by husband and wife duo Chef Michael and Caitlin Toscano. Their vision at the restaurant is to bring the freshest, highest quality regional ingredients to the table and prepare them simply, so that the beauty of those ingredients can shine. Basically, that same magical approach that explains why Italians make the best food in the world, you know?
At our photo shoot, the Toscanos set out an incredible spread of menu highlights for us to sample, and this Lunchbox Pepper Panzanella was not only a standout dish from the restaurant — it was exactly the type of salad I’d love to toss together at home for friends. So of course, I did what any self-respecting salad-loving girl would do: got down on my knees and begged them to spill the recipe. And it worked!
If you’re asking “What’s a Lunchbox Pepper?” don’t worry: me too. Turns out, it’s one of those sweet snacking peppers found next to the good old bell peppers at the market — which you could totally slice and sub in, if you can’t find the Lunchbox variety. Sometimes they’re all orange, but this recipe is even prettier if you can find a multicolored assortment and create that whole #tastetherainbow vibe.
This is one of those salads that doesn’t call for a long list of ingredients, but each one plays such an important role in the finished product. The saltiness of the salami next to the smokiness of the charred peppers melting into the creamy mozzarella – and of course, the crusty chunks of bread that are panzanella’s signature – make this a bursting-with-flavor combination that plays off each other in all the right ways. Hope y’all give this a try before summer’s truly over, and stay tuned for lots more details from our visit to Charleston next week!
- 4 ounces ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
- 5 tablespoons oregano vinaigrette, recipe below
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher sea salt, to taste
- 2 pounds lunch box peppers, all colors
- 6 ounces Mozzarella di Bufala, torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, about half a small onion
- 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
- 4 ounces Soppressata salami, sliced thin and cut into pieces
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake until they are crisp and golden brown, about 8-9 minutes. Let cool on a sheet tray.
- Toss whole Lunch Box Peppers with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. Place on a hot grill or hot dry saute pan. Allow to blister for 2 minutes on each side. You will look for a pepper with marks of char, but not black. Let Cool on a sheet tray.
- Add peppers, onions, croutons, basil, salami and 5 tablespoons of oregano vinaigrette. Toss to coat, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Place in a serving bowl or individually plated.
- Finish with torn pieces of mozzarella di bufala, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Whisk together all ingredients.