Roasted Tomato Panzanella with Fresh Herbs (Vegan)

This Roasted Tomato Panzanella is inspired by the classic Italian-style bread salad, with a few additions to shake things up and infuse some delicious flavors. Mushrooms, asparagus, and fresh herbs with crunchy bread give this dish a hearty, comfort-food feel.

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Right or wrong, Panzanella reminds me of Spring, and since Spring seems like it’s on the horizon (gosh, we hope so here on the East Coast!), this delicious and warm salad came to mind immediately. This is not a classic preparation, but includes additional vegetables that add lots of flavor and nutrition.

Get ready for a decadent salad that’s still light enough to leave you nourished and energized…in any season.

A bit of commentary on the ingredients and preparation…

The Bread

For this Panzanella, we used sourdough bread that we came across this morning in the grocery store. Whenever freshly baked sourdough presents itself, who can resist? While we used sourdough, any crusty bread loaf will do. For the Panzanella salad, you’ll want to cut the loaf into cubes of 2-3cm in width. This is because you’ll be toasting the cubes in the oven and looking for thick chunks of bread to stick your fork into when enjoying this salad.

The Mushrooms

We used crimini mushrooms for this Panzanella, although regular white button mushrooms or portabella mushrooms will work for this recipe. So, whichever mushroom is your preference (or on sale at the market!) will be fantastic. The important part will be rinsing the mushrooms to get any graininess or dirt off of them and patting them dry (or draining) to remove the excess water from the rinsing process.

Roasted Tomato Panzanella with Fresh Herbs (Vegan)

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INGREDIENTS (2-4 servings):

  • 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes (or plum tomatoes chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1/2 medium diced red onion
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus with tough ends chopped off (last 1-1.5 inch of the stalk)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 cups fresh bread cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2T chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2T chopped fresh dill (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tomatoes on a foil-lined baking tray that has been lightly sprayed with oil. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the tomatoes, gently toss to coat, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the skin of the tomatoes has started to split and some of the tomatoes are beginning to turn slightly brown. Remove from oven and set aside, reserving the liquid that releases from the tomatoes. This will make a delicious “dressing” for the salad. Leave oven on for the bread toasting in #3 below.
  2. While the tomatoes are cooking, work on cutting your vegetables. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to a large frying pan and turn on medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the onions and mushrooms. Saute about 10 minutes until the onions are turning translucent, and the mushrooms begin to brown. Then add the asparagus and garlic and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the asparagus is fork tender and still retains some crispness (not mushy). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. While the vegetables are sauteing, cut the bread into cubes, and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and sprinkle on the dried basil and salt/pepper to taste. Place in oven and cook for 3-4 minutes (until toasted and slightly browned on the edges).
  4. To assemble the salad, you’ll combine most of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl (very gently mixing here!): the tomatoes, the bread, the vegetable mixture. Then drizzle over the reserved tomato pan drippings and gently toss. Gently transfer mixture to a serving dish.
  5. Sprinkle with basil and dill, and squeeze lemon juice over the top. If desired, drizzle another teaspoon of olive oil over the top.

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