Saturday, March 28, 2009

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella

Don't be intimidated by this fancy Italian word which, roughly translated, means "tasty way to use up old bread." Traditional panzanella involves rock hard italian bread soaked with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, maybe some cheese, and lots of oil. This concept lends itself to endless variety, like the version I have here.

What I like to do is toast bread / roast vegetables at the same time, toss them in a dressing you mix up while everything's cooking, and you've got a great meal in about half an hour. The best part is, it's even better the next day! Your bread will loose crispness, but it's traded in for an overnight soak in whatever delicious vinaigrette you tossed it in yesterday.

Roasted Vegetable Panzanella
Serves 3–4 (or 1–2 with leftovers)

3 cups multigrain or wheat bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces (Almost any veg will do here, the one pictured above has brussels sprouts, broccoli florets, and red onions. Squashes/potatoes work particularly well.)
about 1/2 cup olive oil, total -- some for roasting and some for dressing
1 small apple, diced
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dill
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400. Pour 1 Tbsp oil in a big bowl. Finely chop or grate your garlic clove into the oil. Let it soak while you chop the bread and vegetables, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle salt and pepper into oil. Toss bread in the oil and spread in a single layer on half a large baking sheet lined with foil.

2. In now-empty bowl, place vegetables and add 1 Tbsp oil, thyme, and plenty of salt and pepper. Spread on other half of baking sheet. Roast in oven about 20 minutes, pulling it out and stirring halfway through.
3. Back in the bowl, combine cider vinegar, honey and dill. Slowly add 1/3 cup olive oil in a stream, whisking vigorously until well combined. Stir in capers.

4. When pan is done in the oven, pull it out and let it cool about 5 minutes. Then toss bread, vegetables, and apple in the dressing. Eat warm.

**Store this at room temperature. If you want to eat the leftovers on the next day, taste a couple of pieces and see how much dressing has been absorbed. You may need to make up a little extra dressing if it's very dry.

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