Panzanella salad

Inspired by the lovely, Heidi Swanson, I made a "not-your-ordinary panzanella salad" for dinner. Yum! I'm still craving the amazingly delicious peanut salad dressing and the charred bits of tofu and bread that added a dimension of smokiness to the fresh dish.


Start by cutting two thick slices of a good quality bread (I used an herb foccacia bread that I picked up at the farmer's market) and, then, using a pastry brush, brush both sides with olive oil. Grill on a stove-top grill pan (I have a le creuset grill pan that I adore...aside from cleaning it!) until each side is golden brown, crunchy, and has grill marks. When the bread cools a bit, tear it into bite-size chunks and put them in a bowl to use later.

Next, cut a block of firm tofu into 4 slabs and brush with olive oil. Grill on the same grill pan until each side turns golden with grill marks, about 10 minutes per side. Take care not to let the tofu stick to the grill pan...mine did which by no means hurt the dish, but it did take away some of the fabulous crunchy outside of the may want to spray the pan first with olive oil to really coat it well. When it is finished cooking, remove from grill and cut into bite-size pieces and place in a large serving bowl.

Now, make the peanut dressing....excuse me my mouth is watering as I type this because its so good! I let Jack help with this step, which I think was fun for him, yet a bit stressful for me as I had to keep reminding him not to put his hands in the bowl! Combine 1/3 cup mixture of almond butter and peanut butter (about half of each), 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 clove of freshly minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper (use less if you don't like a lot of spice), and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Thin with about 1/2 cup warm water to the consistency of melted ice cream.



Just before serving, pour the dressing over the tofu and toss gently. Add the bread chunks and toss again. It will, at first, look like a lot of dressing, the bread really soaks it up. Place then tofu and bread mixture on top of lettuce and then top with chilled roasted tomatoes.