This recipe doesn’t exactly max out health standards or fit in with my recent efforts to explore a wheat-free diet. It relies heavily on bread and olive oil. But it’s a delicious vegan way to make a full meal out of a green salad.
Panzanella is a traditional Italian bread salad. Every recipe I’ve ever seen is different. It can be made with everything from tuna fish to cannellini beans. The core ingredients are bread, tomatoes, lettuce, and fresh basil. Here’s how I do it vegan-style with roasted vegetables.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2-4 cloves of garlic
- loaf of sturdy crusty bread (ciabatta, baguette, italian, etc.)
- 1-2 fresh tomatoes
- 4-6 slices of Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon or other vegan “bacon”
- veggies of your choice for roasting (I used about 1/2 lb green beans and a huge portabella mushroom)
- 1 bag mixed greens, 1 head lettuce, or whatever salad greens you like
- 1-3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (I like to chiffonade it)
- black pepper and salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 425’F and make sure your oven trays are evenly spaced so you can have two trays cooking at the same time.
- Make 1/2 cup garlic oil. Press or mince&mash garlic cloves in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking as you go.
- Prepare the bread. Cut bread into cubes about 1 inch square or a little bigger. Drizzle with 3 TBSP of the garlic oil, toss to coat, and spread flat on a baking sheet or two. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden. Leave the oven on.
- Prepare the veggies. Clean veggies and cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1-2 TBSP garlic oil and spread flat on baking sheet. Roast 15-20 minutes, or until tender, shaking pans or stirring halfway through.
- Prepare the secret ingredients. Okay, maybe not secret, but crucial to the delectable taste. Cut “bacon” slices into bite-sized pieces and saute them in a little bit of the garlic oil. While they’re browning, chop up the tomatoes and discard excess liquid and seeds. Then sear the tomatoes in the bacon for just a couple minutes over medium high heat, stirring gently. The goal is to combine the flavors and warm up the tomatoes, but don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with soggy stewed tomatoes. Remove from heat.
- Make the dressing. Add balsamic vinegar and pepper to the remaining olive oil, adjusting for a mild balanced taste (not too much vinegar). Whisk together. Add the basil. Add salt if needed.
- Mix it all together. Toss together all the prepared ingredients from steps 3-6 with your fresh salad greens. Let the whole thing sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes for the flavors to develop. Stir just before devouring.