Dear Panzanella, I love you. Veggies, cheese, and bread-- what's not to love? Whether you are served as a side to a main dish or present yourself as a meatless meal, you are glorious. Like the grilled panzanella, this is a variation on the classic panzanella. And this one is particularly nice this time of year when the vegetables are just off their peak. Roasting the vegetables intensifies the natural sugars, making for a deeply flavored salad.
I know this is a bread salad, but I cut the carbo load way back from the original recipe. I like my panzanellas heavy on the veggies. Since I was using less bread, I also cut back on the oil, but I amped up the garlic in the vinaigrette. I roast my veggies slightly less than called for because I didn't want my tomatoes to fall apart and the green beans to shrivel up. Having said that, I do not recommend using haricot verts (thin French green beans). They will roast into nothingness. Use the standard variety. Keep a close eye on them while they roast. Your oven may be hotter or cooler than mine, so adjust the roasting time accordingly.
Canellinni beans and fresh mozzarella are added for more taste, texture, and color. White balsamic vinegar, capers, and the last of the summer basil make up a tasty vinaigrette that completes the dish.
Roasted Vegetable Panzanella
serves 6-8 as a side dish, 4-6 as a main course
2 large garlic cloves, finely grated on a microplane
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ficelle or half of a small baguette (about 5 ounces) cut into small pieces
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes
1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
3 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 Tablespoons capers
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound (8-ounces) bocconcini or fresh mozzarella, lightly salted and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425° F.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, oil, and a pinch of salt. Place bread cubes in a medium bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil, tossing to combine. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven stirring once or twice until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven; leave oven on.
In a small bowl, gently toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Toss green beans in the same bowl with another tablespoon of the garlic oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Arrange the beans in a single layer on another baking sheet. Roast vegetables until the tomatoes are tender and starting to blister and the green beans are tender and lightly browned in spots, about 8 minutes for the tomatoes and 10-12 minutes for the green beans. Cool vegetables on the pans until ready to assemble salad.
Meanwhile, add the vinegar, capers, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to the remaining garlic oil, whisking until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Transfer green beans, tomatoes and any pan juices, toasted bread, cannellini beans, mozzarella, and basil into a large serving bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and gently toss to combine well. Let stand for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to develop; stir again just before serving. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Gourmet Today edited by Ruth Reichl