This vibrant, fun-to-assemble, delicious taste of summer bursts with flavor, starting with a layer of grilled bread, followed by grilled zucchini, goat cheese, grill-roasted red peppers, lots of fresh herbs, and a tomato vinaigrette with both cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. You can prepare much of this salad ahead, but wait until the last minute to grill the zucchini and bread. Then have fun assembling the layers however you like.

Serves 4

  • 2 large red bell peppers (choose long peppers over blocky ones)
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Four 1/2-inch-thick slices peasant bread (from a boule or other large loaf – slices should be oval, about 7 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and sliced in half
  • 3 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 1/4 cup very roughly chopped basil and mint leaves
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese (crumbled while still cold), at room temperature or slightly warmed
  • Double tomato dressing, recipe follows

1. Preheat gas grill on high. While grill is preheating, put whole peppers directly on grate, lower lid, and cook, turning every couple of minutes, until peppers are well-blistered and blackened in most places, about 10 to 12 minutes. (They do not need to be completely blackened all over or the skin will stick.) Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with foil. Let sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Over a fine-meshed colander set over a bowl (to catch juices), peel skin away from peppers; it should come right off. (Reserve any accumulated juices.) Set peppers on a cutting board and split them lengthwise naturally along the lobes. Gently remove and discard seeds – do not rinse peppers. You will probably wind up with 6 or 7 long pieces (total from both peppers). You will need 8 long pieces total so split two pieces in half lengthwise again. (They will be thinner pieces, which is fine – you can use them as the top layer.)

2. Reduce grill heat to medium. Trim ends off zucchini and cut in half crosswise (not lengthwise). You will have four pieces, each about 3 or 4 inches long. Stand each up on one end on cutting board. Trim a little sliver off of two sides of each piece (to avoid eventual pieces with a lot of skin), and then cut down through zucchini at 1/4-inch intervals to yield 4 or 5 slices or “planks” per zucchini half. You’ll have a total of about 16 to 20 pieces. Lay zucchini pieces down on a foil-lined sheet tray and brush generously on both sides with olive oil (you’ll use a total of about 2 1/2 tablespoons) and season with a little salt.

3. Generously brush bread slices on both sides with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Put on a tray or plate to take to grill.

4. Lay bread slices and zucchini slices on grill and cover. Grill bread until golden brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cook zucchini until well-marked on the first side, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip over and cook other side until marked, about 2 to 3 minutes more. (Transfer zucchini to a tray or plate and cover loosely to retain some heat if not assembling right away.) Rub grilled bread on both sides with cut sides of garlic.

5. Portion arugula leaves evenly and arrange on four plates, scattering leaves loosely. (Save a few for the top.) Sprinkle about a third of the herbs over arugula. Place one piece of bread in the middle of each plate. Drizzle bread with accumulated pepper juices (if you have any). Top each piece of bread with two pieces of grilled zucchini (arrange them on a slight diagonal). Sprinkle half of the goat cheese on zucchini. Cover goat cheese with one piece of roasted pepper (use larger pieces on this layer, and again, arrange on a slight diagonal). Sprinkle another third of the herbs on roasted pepper, and then top with remaining goat cheese. Arrange two more slices of zucchini and remaining herbs over goat cheese. Top with last piece of roasted pepper. Spoon an equal amount of Double Tomato Dressing around and over each of the “sandwiches” and top with a few leaves of arugula. Serve right away.

Double Tomato Dressing

Makes 1 1/4 cups

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped, drained, oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mix of fresh mint and basil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon good-quality black-olive tapenade
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces small cherry tomatoes or other tiny tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size

1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients except fresh tomatoes until well combined. Gently fold in fresh tomatoes. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare salad. Stir gently before serving.

This recipe was originally published with the article, Scrumptious Salads Fresh Off the Grill.