August 07, 2011

Roasted Summer Panzanella



After taking a bite of this salad, my first words were literally “this is like summer in a bowl”...And just like summer, I didn’t want this bowl to end!

This was the year that I discovered panzanella, and it has become one of my favourite summertime meals. It’s easy to make and very customizable – perfect for highlighting the best produce and herbs of the season!

If the idea of panzanella has never interested you, I suspect the reason is the bread...A typical response I get when I try to tell people that they should make it is something along the lines of “Ew, soggy bread? No thanks”. But I promise the bread is not soggy or mushy – this is not meant to be anything like bread pudding! All you have to do is toast the bread in the oven or on the BBQ first to make it crispy...It doesn’t even have to be stale to begin with. Also, be sure to add the bread in just before serving, so that it doesn’t soak up the dressing for too long before you eat it.

If I am making panzanella as a quick lunch, I would just add some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, along with the toasted bread, herbs and dressing. But last week, I got a bit more inspired and wanted to try a roasted version using  a slightly greater variation of ingredients. It turned out soo yummy, I loved each and every bite (I even tried to structure my spoonfuls so that I could get a bit of everything all at once)! I also thought the addition of cheese worked really well, but you could easily leave that out for a vegan version.

Here’s the recipe I used, but feel free to adjust the amounts of everything the way you like!

Roasted Summer Panzanella
Inspired by these recipes: Simple Panzanella and Sourdough Panzanella with Summer Vegetables

10-15 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
About 6 slices of cucumber, halved
½ a yellow summer squash, sliced and halved
1 cob of corn
About ¼ cup of mozzarella or bocconcini (I used about 10 mini bocconcini balls)
Hunk of bread (bagette or loaf, not the sliced sandwich bread – I used a piece of baguette about 4 ½ inches, or 100g)
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
1.5 tbsp olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or balsamic
½ tsp dried oregano (or use fresh)
Handful of fresh basil
Salt and pepper

First, you need to roast all the veggies, so preheat the oven to 350. Put the corn in the oven with the husk on (this is my favourite method of cooking corn!) and roast for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the other veggies. In a baking dish, mix the tomatoes, squash, and garlic with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Put this pan in the oven with the corn for the last 15-20 minutes of roasting time.
Cut your loaf of bread in half and brush each half with a bit of olive oil (or cooking spray). Add bread to oven on a baking pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

When the corn is done, remove the husk (you might need oven mitts, it will be hot!) and slice off the kernels with a knife into a bowl. Add the remaining veggies, garlic, and cheese.
Tear or slice the bread into small pieces and add to bowl.
Next, add the oregano, olive oil and vinegar and mix everything together. Mix in the basil last.

Makes 1 large serving.



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