Grilled Cheese Panzanella Salad…and More Cooking on TV!

Summer is usually a time when I relax a bit but things couldn’t be busier around here! In between wrapping up my cookbook manuscript, shuttling my two little kids around to their camps and swim lessons and judging two dessert competitions at the San Diego County Fair (ok, that wasn’t so difficult) I also managed to put two TV cooking demos under my belt within the past week! I told you about my first-ever live TV cooking demo on the CW in my last post – this time around I had the opportunity to work with Tillamook on a promotional spot that aired on ABC in San Diego (see the video below).

I watch the video and I can’t stop thinking to myself, “I spent two hours at Nordstrom shopping for an outfit and I didn’t remember to wear the jacket!” Bare arms aside, it was an incredible experience. Tillamook was promoting their Picnic Photo Contest, so all four dishes I presented were picnic-worthy: Grilled Cheese Panzanella Salad (you can find the recipe at the end of this post!), Grilled Pineapple-Pepper Jack Bites (I’ve shared the recipe on Tillamook’s blog), Grilled Ratatouille Panini (that’s the one we made in the video) and Homemade Ice Cream Cones (one of my most popular posts on Panini Happy).

Lights, Camera, Action!Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look. In contrast to the San Diego Living segment, which aired live outside with a single handheld camera (and an airplane flying overhead!) this advertising piece was filmed inside the studio with two fixed cameras and was pre-recorded. I imagined that a recorded segment would be far easier than a live one, but it was actually much more challenging to get everything timed just right.
I spent 2 hours picking out an outfit, then forgot to wear the jacket!I had practiced being able to talk and assemble the sandwich at the same time, but I actually ended up guiding the segment host, Autumn, to make the sandwich. I think she especially appreciated the part at the end of the piece where she got to sample the ice cream cone. 🙂There I am, grilling! Last, but certainly not least, I want to tell you about my Grilled Cheese Panzanella Salad. As I explained in the video, it’s a fun twist on the classic Italian summer panzanella salad. In place of the traditional panzanella croutons I’ve made some mini grilled cheese croutons (just like I did with my Grilled Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons). If you want to keep things Italian you can use mozzarella cheese or, to have them look more like typical grilled cheese sandwiches, you could go with a cheddar like I did for Tillamook. You just toss them in with ripe tomatoes, red onions and basil in a light vinaigrette – a fresh and summery salad and sandwich all in one. 🙂


Grilled Cheese Panzanella Salad

Recipe by Kathy Strahs,

Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 4 minutes | Total time: 24 minutes

Yield: About 4 servings


Grilled Cheese Croutons:

  • 4 slices day-old sourdough or other rustic white bread
  • 2 ounces shredded mozzarella or other semi-firm cheese


  • 1 pound medium tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil

White Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the panini maker to medium high heat.
  2. Divide the cheese between two slices of bread. Close each sandwich with a second slice of bread.
  3. Grill both panini until the cheese is melted and bread is toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the panini from the grill to a cutting board. Trim the crusts from the panini and cut up each sandwich into 1-inch square pieces.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, mustard, salt and pepper until the salt is dissolved. Gradually whisk in the olive oil.
  5. Cut up the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks.
  6. Add the tomatoes to a large salad bowl, along with the sliced onions, torn basil and grilled cheese croutons.
  7. Toss the salad with enough of the dressing to moisten the croutons without drenching them. Allow the flavors to meld together at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving the salad.

You can keep any extra white balsamic vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to a week. Allow the dressing to come to room temperature and give it a good stir before using it next.


KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
>> About Me

All-Time Reader Favorites!

Panini 101

Recent Posts


Permission Policy

All recipes, text and photographs on this site are the original creations and property of Panini Happy. Do not post or publish anything from this site without full credit and a direct link to the original post. with any requests or questions.

Browse Panini

Leave a Comment


  1. emmycooks wrote:

    This is such a good idea. It’s so efficient to combine your salad and sandwich into one! 🙂

    Posted 7.15.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Ha ha, I’m definitely one for efficiency. 🙂

      Posted 7.15.12 Reply
  2. Kathy, you are so good on TV!!

    Posted 7.16.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Coming from someone who deftly delivered 20 fabulous cooking tips in 20 minutes via live webcast this means a lot, Sommer!! 🙂

      Posted 7.16.12 Reply
  3. Congratulations! The video is great (and it made me really hungry)!

    Posted 7.16.12 Reply
  4. Amanda wrote:

    What an awesome idea. Love it!! 🙂 You did so great on your video!! 🙂

    Posted 7.16.12 Reply
  5. you go girl! You should be proud

    Posted 7.16.12 Reply
  6. Kalyn wrote:

    Glad you are having fun with the TV appearances. (That would be my idea of torture!)

    Posted 7.16.12 Reply
  7. Definitely on the same wave length: I’ve used my panini press to grill pineapple and veggies this week!

    Posted 7.16.12 Reply
  8. A grilled cheese salad is a great idea!

    Posted 7.17.12 Reply
  9. kellypea wrote:

    Wow — you really have been busy! And how cool that you’ve been doing television — I may have to get your autograph next time I see you 🙂 The salad sounds great — we’re in serious salad mode around here to help recover from yet another food-based vacation. Ugh.

    Posted 7.17.12 Reply
  10. Why wear a jacket to hide such great toned arms? That’s my thinking. You look marh-velous!

    Posted 7.17.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      Lol, you’re too kind, Carolyn. 🙂 Thanks!

      Posted 7.17.12 Reply
  11. Debbie wrote:

    Love the pineapple appetizer idea–and I just happen to have a good crop of basil going. You did great on your video, by the way!

    Posted 7.21.12 Reply
  12. Jeanette wrote:

    Great job Kathy – congrats! You were awesome, very natural on camera.

    Posted 7.21.12 Reply
  13. Katie wrote:

    Congrats on all of your exciting endeavors. I am so glad you’re getting on screen. You are such a positive person, it is surely going to launch you further into stardom!

    Posted 7.26.12 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      That’s so kind of you to say, Katie – thanks so much. I hope we get to catch up in person again soon!

      Posted 7.26.12 Reply
  14. Kristen wrote:

    You are such a natural (and you look happy and fabulous too!)
    Congrats on all the things coming your way, friend!

    Posted 7.27.12 Reply
  15. Eliana wrote:

    Love this concept of this salad. Such a great idea. And you are AWESOME on TV. Congrats!

    Posted 8.1.12 Reply
  16. Lovely salad and you did great on TV, Kathy!! 🙂

    Posted 8.8.12 Reply