Grilled Eggplant Panzanella:
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup cucumbers, chopped
1 cup eggplant, chopped
3 small slices sourdough or Italian bread (about 1 cup after cutting)
1 Tbsp. Pesto (recipe at the bottom)
1-2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Chop the eggplant into chunks and add them to a colander with salt. Let the salted eggplant rest in a colander for 20 minutes to draw out moisture and take away some of the bitterness of the eggplant. After 20 minutes, rinse the eggplant with water.
Heat a grill or heat a saute/grill pan on medium heat and spray with olive oil spray. Add the sliced eggplant, turning every few minutes to cook each side. Cook for about 15 minutes and add a little salt and Italian seasoning to flavor.
Cover bread slices with a little olive oil and Italian seasoning or garlic salt. Toast in a pan on each side until crisp. Remove from heat and slice into 1-inch sized cubes.
In a bowl, combine chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers and grilled eggplant. Add 1 Tbsp. pesto and balsamic vinegar. Toss everything together. Add the toasted bread last and allow everything to rest for 20 minutes so the juices combine and the bread soaks in some flavor. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
Basil-Ramp Pesto: Blend 1/2 cup chopped ramps (or 2 Tbsp. garlic if you can’t locate ramps), 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1 lemon juiced, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup olive oil (plus more if needed to get the blender moving), 1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.