Grilled Pesto Shrimp Panzanella Salad.
Hearty chunks of toasted bread tossed with pesto, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, diced red onion and basil topped with pesto rubbed grilled shrimp.  This salad is a meal in a bowl and a great way to savor those late summer tomatoes.
An overhead image of panzanella salad with shrimp

Panzanella and caprese salads have got to be THE salads of late summer. The summer garden tomato season is so short (and so anticipated!) and the tomatoes are so good, that these salads have got to be made as often as possible.

We love a more traditional panzanella and caprese salad – but we also love adding “extras” to make those salads into a meal. Case in point this lobster caprese salad (a must-make at least once a summer) and this grilled shrimp panzanella salad.
Shrimp is something we always keep in our freezer for quick, simple and healthy meals. They thaw and cook in minutes, so it takes little time to get them from the freezer to the table, which is a win in my book.
A white bowl of panzanella salad with shrimp and basil

This salad is a bit different from your traditional panzanella salad. Why?

  • Panzanella salad is a Tuscan bread salad, traditionally made with leftover day-old dried out bread plus very ripe and very juicy tomatoes. Sometimes additional summer veggies and fresh herbs are added – plus olive oil and vinegar. It was a great salad to reduce food waste and make use of that older bread and those almost over-ripe tomatoes. The bread soaks up all those amazing juices. This panzanella uses fresh toasted bread instead of day-old bread.
  • This panzanella tosses cubed toasted bread with a homemade pesto. We have tons and tons of basil growing in the garden, so the pesto making has begun and will continue until there’s no more basil. If you love pesto, you’ll love adding pesto to your panzanella. Feel free to use store-bought pesto if you’re in a pinch for time or can’t get your hands on fresh basil. Oh – and I didn’t have any pine nuts, so used toasted walnuts in the pesto.
  • This salad uses fresh mozzarella – the pearl size balls, which we love (the kids call them meatballs). You can also use a regular large ball of mozzarella, cut into cubes.

An overhead image of a white bowl of panzanella salad with grilled shrimp

How do you grill shrimp?

Shrimp is one of the easiest and quickest proteins to grill. The shrimp cook in mere minutes, so stay by the grill.

  • First, if frozen, thaw the shrimp. Thaw either in the fridge overnight, or for a few minutes in a large bowl under running water.
  • If the shrimp aren’t peeled and deveined (look for those that are), peel and devein the shrimp. You can keep the tail on.
  • Pat the shrimp dry.
  • If skewering shrimp, do this now.
  • Brush shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat the grill to high heat. Clean and oil grates.
  • Reduce grill heat to medium high.
  • Grill shrimp until opaque, flipping halfway through cooking time. Shrimp, depending on size, will take only 1-2 minutes per side. Don’t overcook them, as they’ll become rubbery.

An overhead image of panzanella salad topped with pesto shrimp skewers

A few recipe notes:

  • Don’t like shrimp? Sub in any grilled fish – or scallops.
  • To make sure you’re buying sustainably grown and harvested shrimp, check out seafoodwatch.org. You can also look for shrimp that’s been eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), Naturland and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). When in doubt, ask questions at the seafood counter – about freshness and these 3rd party certifications.
  • This recipe uses 16/20 shrimp, which indicates size – there are 16-20 shrimp per pound. So, these are on the larger size. You can use any size shrimp you’d like here.

Here’s how to make this Grilled Pesto Shrimp Panzanella Salad:

Grilled Pesto Shrimp Panzanella Salad

Hearty chunks of toasted bread tossed with pesto, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, diced red onion and basil topped with pesto rubbed grilled shrimp.  This salad is a meal in a bowl and a great way to savor those summer tomatoes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Shrimp Panzanella Salad
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 baguette cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces mozzarella pearls
  • 1/2 red onion diced

Pesto

  • 1 heaping cup basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts*
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Shrimp

  • 4 metal or wooden skewers (if using wooden, soak in water for 30 minutes)
  • 1 lb 16/20 shrimp, tail-on peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Add cherry tomatoes, white balsamic vinegar and salt to a medium mixing bowl. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  • Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 300 degrees F. Toss bread cubes with extra virgin olive oil. Place bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until crisp, but not toasted (still light in color), flipping bread cubes halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and let cool. Add bread to a very large serving bowl or platter. Spoon 3/4 of the pesto (recipe below) overtop the toasted bread. Using your hands, toss the bread cubes with the pesto until the pesto coats the bread.
  • Preheat grill to high heat. Clean and oil grates. Thread shrimp onto skewers (make sure to have soaked skewers in water for 30 minutes, if using wooden skewers, to prevent them from burning). Pat dry with a paper towel. Brush lightly with extra virgin olive oil (you don't want it dripping with oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Reduce grill heat to medium. Add the shrimp and grill for 1-2 minutes on each side until shrimp are cooked through and opaque. Remove from grill.
  • Brush shrimp with remaining pesto.
  • Add tomato mixture, mozzarella and red onion to the large bowl with the pesto bread. Toss well to combine. Let sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
  • Top salad with shrimp skewers and serve.

To make the Pesto

  • Add basil, walnuts, parmesan, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and combines. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while continuing to pulse, until mixture is well blended.

Notes

*To toast walnuts. Preheat oven to 350. Place walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 8-10 minutes until walnuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove from oven.
 
 

 

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