Grilled Bread Salad With Broccoli Rabe & Summer Squash

October  4, 2022
15 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 45 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

There are the two main reasons for making this salad: First, the grill does all the work, freeing you from a hot kitchen in the summer, and second, it’s crazy good. The mayonnaise marinade for the vegetables creates a wonderful blistery crust. I’ve chosen a mix of broccoli rabe and summer squash, and if you’ve never had grilled broccoli rabe, you’re in for a real treat. The marinade soaks into the squash and clings to the leaves and florets of the broccoli rabe, resulting in a delicious smoky char that perfectly complements the natural sweet-bitter flavors. —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: EmilyC is an environmental scientist who knows a thing or two about the power of mayonnaise and aioli.
WHAT: A spicy-crunchy-creamy salad with an abundance of glorified croutons.
HOW: Marinate broccoli rabe and summer squash in a spicy mayonnaise mixture and grill each until crispy and charred. Mix the vegetables with cubed grilled bread and top with fresh herbs, toasty pine nuts, and lemon juice.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We would never think to marinate vegetables in mayonnaise, but now we have seen the light -- and there’s no looking back. The mayonnaise serves its predictable creamy role, but it also imparts an addictive spiciness to the sometimes-bland vegetables, and creates a crisp outer layer. That means there’s no sogginess in sight. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the mayonnaise marinade
  • 1 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed
  • For the grilled vegetables and bread salad
  • 2 or 3 mixed summer squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2 inch-thick rounds
  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe (or young, tender broccoli)
  • 4 1/2-inch slices from the center of a loaf of crusty bread (ciabatta or sourdough works well)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil for brushing bread
  • 1 splash Olive oil for brushing grill grate
  • 1 handful torn basil and mint for garnish
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted, chopped almonds
  • 1 splash extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, to taste
  1. To prepare the broccoli rabe, remove thick, tough lower ends of stalks. Split lengthwise any stalks that are more than 1/2-inch thick. If you are using young, tender broccoli, prepare it in the same way.
  2. To prepare the mayonnaise marinade: In a large bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, smoked Spanish paprika, Aleppo pepper, and cumin seed until smooth and emulsified.
  3. To prepare the vegetables: To the bowl of marinade, add the summer squash. Rinse the broccoli rabe thoroughly to remove any grit hiding among the leaves. Add it to the bowl with the summer squash, then toss with the marinade to coat the vegetables evenly. (Don’t dry the broccoli rabe after rinsing -- the bit of water clinging to the leaves will thin the marinade and gently steam the stalks as they’re grilling, allowing any tough stalks to get tender.) Allow the vegetables to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice to make sure they’re evenly coated.
  4. To prepare grill: Meanwhile, prepare a gas grill with all burners on medium, or a prepare a charcoal grill with hot coals. Brush the grilling rack with olive oil.
  5. To grill the vegetables: When the grill is ready, arrange the summer squash rounds evenly across the grill grate. Grill for a few minutes on each side, or until tender and nicely blistered in spots. Remove the squash from grill. Next, arrange the broccoli rabe in a single layer on the grill. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until tender and blistered in spots. (Taste if you're unsure if the stalks are tender.) If the stalks are charring quickly but aren't tender, spray or drizzle a few drops of water on them. Remove from the grill and place on a large platter or sheet pan to cool. (You don’t want to stack the broccoli rabe while it’s still hot because it’ll lose its crisp, papery texture.)
  6. To grill the bread: Brush each slice of bread (top and bottom) with about about 1 tablespoon of oil, or enough to evenly and thoroughly coat each side. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Grill the bread on both sides, checking frequently, until charred in spots, a few minutes per side. Turn down the heat if needed. You want the bread to be crusty but soft in the middle. When the bread is cool enough to handle, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  7. To assemble salad: On a large serving platter, place the bread cubes, grilled broccoli rabe, and summer squash. Garnish with toasted nuts, basil, and mint. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Pamela Turner
    Pamela Turner
  • BarnOwlBaker
  • MarieH
  • cookinginvictoria
  • loubaby

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

48 Reviews

Pamela T. October 30, 2019
I made the marinade and used it on zucchini and chicken breasts for grilling tonight. We loved it; the chicken was flavorful, moist and had great color. I look forward to making the salad as intended in the future as well as future riffs. Delicious 😋 - thank you for a nice addition for the grilling marinade repertoire!
okaykate November 3, 2017
Has anyone tried this with a vegan mayo (thinking Hampton Creek Just Mayo specifically)?
BarnOwlBaker September 7, 2017
Really liked thIs salad and mayo marinade! For my taste, it was way too salty, and this overpowered the interesting spices. Next time I'll use 1/2 teaspoon salt, or none, instead of 1 T as recipe.
MarieH May 26, 2016
Can I use ground cumin instead of seed?
EmilyC May 26, 2016
Yes, absolutely!
HDeffenbaugh May 25, 2016
This reminds me of an alternative Panzanella Salad. Looking forward to trying it out.
EmilyC May 25, 2016
Hope you like it!! It's one of my favorite salads.
cookinginvictoria September 5, 2015
Hi Emily, I made this salad last night to bring to a party, and I can't believe that I waited so long to make this recipe. It was fabulous -- really, a perfect summer dish and one that was devoured by the guests. Such a genius idea to use mayonnaise as a marinade and the combination of garlic, Aleppo pepper and cumin made the dish really sing. I plan to make this a few more times before the cold, rainy weather hits. I couldn't find broccoli rabe, so I subbed radicchio, fennel and some broccoli crowns in its place. I saved the leftover marinade and will grill some more vegetables tonight.
EmilyC September 8, 2015
So happy that you liked the salad, civ! And I really like your idea of subbing radicchio and fennel. I've never tried them using this preparation -- good to know they work well! Thanks so much for trying this and your nice note!
loubaby August 11, 2014
I made this last night and we both loved it--the marinade has great flavor and can see adapting other vegetables to it....and the unusual use of grilled Broccoli Rabe which we love mostly with pasta or on Pizza....there is a lot of fat in the recipe, but some of the marinade drained off before we grilled it so it wasn't so bad...thanks for another way to use Broccoli Rabe.
EmilyC August 13, 2014
Thanks loubaby! So glad you tried and liked it. Thanks for your note.
lilly August 5, 2014
Has anyone (Emily C?) had any luck making this with other veggies? Zucchini or carrots? We don't often get either broccoli rabe or summer squash where I live in Kenya but we love roasted veggies. Curious to know, sound fabulous!
EmilyC August 5, 2014
Hi lilly -- I've made this several times with zucchini -- it works well! Broccoli can be substituted for the broccoli rabe (just peel and/or split in half the tough stems). I've never tried kale in this recipe but think it would be fabulous since it takes so well to the grill. You could even throw some red bell peppers into the mix -- I'll bet the mayo marinade would work well on them. Let me know what you end up trying if you make this!
lilly August 5, 2014
Thanks so much! We have guests Thur night and nothing I like better than trying something new for guests. I'll definitely let you know how it goes :)
oregon C. July 14, 2014
Can't wait to try this -- how far in advance could this be made with great results? Would this keep until evening if I grilled all in the morning?
EmilyC July 14, 2014
That's a good question. I've made this salad several hours in advance and served it at room temperature with great results. The vegetables will lose a bit of their crispness but they'll still be good. If you grill everything in the morning, you could try re-warming / re-crisping the vegetables briefly under your broiler before serving. I'm a huge proponent of making things in advance so please let me know how it goes!
Gail T. July 13, 2014
This was delicious. A new way to make broccoli rabe instead of the usual saute. I used the olive oil mayo and it turned out great. I especially liked the fact I didnt have to dry all the leaves after washing :)
EmilyC July 13, 2014
So glad you liked it -- thanks for letting me know!
Jennifer M. July 9, 2014
I have a question...can you use olive oil mayo and will the marinade still work?
EmilyC July 9, 2014
The last time I made this, I used Hellmann's olive oil mayo, so yes! Hope you like it!
savorthis July 6, 2014
I made this over the weekend to go with some smoked lamb. I did not have any lemons but had some tangerines which I thought would actually go well with the lamb. We used broccolini and yellow summer squash. I usually will peel the thicker stalks of broccolini but halved them instead. I also used an Asiago loaf of bread which was nice. The whole mixture was perfect with the lamb! Next time I think I would also add some blistered cherry tomatoes. Great recipe!
EmilyC July 7, 2014
So happy you made and liked it! The lamb pairing sounds fabulous.
healthierkitchen July 4, 2014
I love the way this sounds and I'm not even a mayonnaise person. Will try soon!
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks Wendy! I think even mayo haters may like this salad -- most won't even know it's there!
hardlikearmour July 4, 2014
Congratulations, EmC! I loved this salad when I made it last year, and am glad for the reminder to make it again.
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks Sara! I need to make it again myself!
fiveandspice July 3, 2014
I had forgotten about this from last summer, but I'm so excited to have it brought back to my attention. Yay yay yay!!! Congrats Em!
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks Em! : )
AntoniaJames July 3, 2014
Perfect, for so many reasons. Congratulations. ;o)
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks for the nice note, AJ!
gingerroot July 3, 2014
Yay! Well-deserved congrats, Emily! I'm not surprised this is a finalist.
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks so much Jenny!
ChefJune July 3, 2014
Well I can sure see how this recipe got chosen as a finalist! I'm making it this weekend. For sure. Congrats, Emily!
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks so much ChefJune -- I really hope you try and like it! Happy 4th!
savorthis July 3, 2014
Congrats Emily! This looks great. We grill broccoli all the time because we love the crispy florets and I bet the marinade makes it even better.
EmilyC July 4, 2014
Thanks savorthis! Grilled broccoli is the best. If you ever go this mayo route, let me know!
gingerroot July 19, 2012
Gosh, I'll admit I've never been a big mayo fan but this alone might change that. This sounds amazing!
EmilyC July 19, 2012
Thanks gingerroot! It's kind of cool that the mayo plays the leading role in the salad but then steps aside to let the vegetables have the limelight. So humble that mayo! : )