stacked tomato, summer vegetable and grilled bread salad

I have recently gotten into bread making. I never thought I would become this kind of person, but now I have officially crossed over. So a few weeks ago, friends from our small group had the most delicious bread that they "made" from a "starter" -- which is this strange chemically charged magical liquid that you have to "feed" every 3-7 days ... it hisses and grows and does all sorts of weird things. But I was intrigued, so they gave me half of theirs and I gave it a shot. AND NOW I AM OBSESSED. Making bread is my new favorite thing to do; it's so personal and thought-out and requires time and love. Not to mention it tastes like heaven and makes your house smell like a bakery. Win, win.

So tonight, I made this delicious sandwich that we tried out earlier this summer from Cookie and Kate. Directions below (simplified a little), but obviously the original here ... I don't make this stuff up, friends.

Ingredients
Double tomato dressing
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2 Ts finely chopped and drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 T plus 1 t red wine vinegar
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh mint and basil
  • 1 t honey
  • 1/2 t finely chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/2 t minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 t ground sea salt
  • 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
Stacked salad
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 4 1/2-inch thick slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 2 small tomatoes, sliced into fat rounds
  • 1/4 cup very roughly chopped basil and mint leaves
  • 4 ounces goat cheese (I used feta)
Instructions
  1. Make the dressing first. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the tomatoes. Gently fold in the tomatoes and let it sit at room temperature while preparing the salad. Stir before serving.
  2. Roast the red bell peppers either on a grill or simply over the stovetop until the peppers are blackened. Cut into strips and keep in the oven to stay warm.
  3. Reduce the grill heat to medium. Cut down through the zucchini at 1/4-inch intervals to yield four or five slices per zucchini half. Brush them generously on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Keep in warm oven.
  4. Generously brush the slices of bread with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt. Grill the bread until golden brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  5. Divide the arugula or lettuce leaves among the plates, scattering them loosely. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the herbs over the lettuce. Top the lettuce with a bread slice in the center of each plate. Top each bread slice with two or three slices of zucchini, placing them at a slight diagonal. Sprinkle half the goat (or feta) cheese over the zucchini. Cover with a piece of roasted red pepper at a slight diagonal (use the larger strips of pepper, if you have any). Top with another sprinkle of herbs and the remaining goat cheese. Top with the last pieces of zucchini, then the last pieces of roasted pepper, then tomato slices. Spoon an equal amount of dressing around and over each of the “sandwiches” and top with any remaining herbs. Serve immediately. SO good-- just cut up everything and eat like a salad.