Treat Dad to Grilled Panzanella this Father’s Day

In my book, cooking a meal for someone you love is one of the greatest expressions of care and appreciation. We’ve long shown love in the South by feeding each other. As a child, I can remember going to Grandma Dot’s house for supper and the excitement and anticipation of it all. As soon as you entered her home, the sounds of her knife chopping against the cutting board and the smell of buttermilk biscuits baking in the oven, (or cathead biscuits as my Daddy would say), wafted from the kitchen. While she put the final touches on the meal, the family mingled in the living room and helped out if there was anything to be done. The table for eight was set and just before she called everyone to gather around for the blessing, Grandma would disappear into the back of the house to her bedroom, where she would change from her nightgown to “get her clothes on.”

Grandma Dot is my Mother’s mom, and she is one of my greatest influences in the kitchen.

The meal, often of pork chops or baked spaghetti, was always from scratch, home-cooked and served family style where dishes were passed around the table until everyone’s plates were filled. Being the gracious host that she is, Grandma acted as a sort of waitress throughout the meal, filling tea glasses and asking if she could get us anything else. Despite my Grandpa’s insistence that she have a seat and join us at the table, her main concern was taking good care of her family, ensuring we enjoyed every morsel and offering us seconds. She eventually sat down, but it wasn’t until she was satisfied and everyone was happily eating. I didn’t know it then, but those early childhood memories would shape my love for food and entertaining, and go a long way in teaching me how to take care of the men in my life.

If you’ve read my food column in the Statesboro Herald for any length of time, or follow this food blog, you know that I’m passionate about food and love to explore good restaurants. I also began culinary school this summer, and I’m learning so much about flavor combinations. To my Dad though, no matter how many restaurants I discover or flavor pairings I explore, he likes what he likes. Sometimes I think expanding his palate is a hopeless effort, but one can always dream! I could be the greatest chef in the world, and I think he would still request fried shrimp or hamburger steak with a baked potato, and a basic toss salad with Thousand Island dressing. Michelin starred restaurants and fine dining concepts are lost causes where he is concerned. For all of his amazing qualities, being open to new foods is few and far between. He’s not alone in this way of thinking though; he represents a large part of his generation. Especially when you’re hungry, you want to eat what you know rather than taking a risk on something you don’t. I can’t blame him for that.

I'm a chip off the ol' block! That's me and my Dad Joe (left).
I’m a chip off the ol’ block! That’s me and my Dad Joe (left) on the St. Simons Island Pier.

In the spirit of my Dad’s penchant for good ol’ fashioned, down home cooking, here’s my suggestion for treating your Dad to a meal that’s Some Kinda Good this Father’s Day: Keep it simple and cook with quality ingredients. If you’re really on top of things, you will have visited the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market (or your local one!) for some really delicious, local vegetables, sweet corn on the cob and a few mouthwatering Hunter Cattle Company steaks. Fire up the grill, season the steaks well (salt and pepper is a no fail solution every time) and get cooking. Dice up some potatoes and toss them on a sheet pan. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat evenly. While the corn on the cob and steaks are grilling, roast the potatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Serve the grilled steaks and corn on the cob with the roasted potatoes alongside my grilled panzanella salad. It’s a Tuscan salad of fresh, seasonal vegetables and grilled Italian bread that even my dear ol’ dad would enjoy!

Remember, whether you’re cooking a five course fancy meal or something less fussy, make the main ingredient love and do it from the heart. Happy Father’s Day!

Father’s Day Menu

A Tuscan salad, Grilled Panzanella features vegetables in season and grilled bread.
Grilled Panzanella Salad is a nice alternative to toss salad and a great way to use summer’s garden bounty!

Grilled Panzanella Salad

  • 2 large bell peppers (any color), quartered
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
  • 1 Medium Onion, cut in half
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into half-moon pieces
  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 loaf of ciabatta or Italian bread, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh basil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Fresh Parmesan, if desired

Brush grill with olive oil, season vegetables with kosher salt and black pepper. Grill bell peppers, zucchini and onion for about 4-5 minutes, turning once until grill marks are visible. Chop the grilled vegetables into bite size pieces and place them in a large mixing bowl. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cucumber into the same bowl. Remove bread from grill, cut into cubes and toss together with the vegetables. Drizzle the mixture with equal parts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, just enough to dress the salad lightly, and season with more salt and pepper. Squeeze about 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice over the mixture. Add in fresh basil and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over the top if desired. Devour!

This article will appear in the Statesboro Herald on Father’s Day, June 19, 2016.

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Rebekah-3Let’s work together! Email me

Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a freelance writer, entertainer and food enthusiast who writes and speaks about her love of good food and the Coastal South. A Season 2 Contestant on ABC TV’s “The Taste,” she is the Statesboro Herald food columnist and past host of the program “Statesboro Cooks.” Lingenfelser is a student at the award-winning Culinary Institute of Savannah. To learn more, visit or connect with Rebekah on social media by following Some Kinda Good on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


One thought on “Treat Dad to Grilled Panzanella this Father’s Day

  1. Rebekah, your story was heartfelt and so true! Mama sure did know and still does know how to cook good southern food. I did love those smells of good food all through the house when we would go visit. Your Dad just smiled and loved the story too! Your menu for today sounds delicious! I really like your blackberry cobbler for dessert! Yummy. I might try making your salad too! We love you, Bek.


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