Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oven Roasted Zucchini Panzanella

As I mentioned earlier, my mom came into the city this weekend to build furniture and make cakes with yours truly. She also brought along a little gift. Well, "little" isn't exactly the word. It was a gigantic zucchini, fresh from her garden!

Isn't it just beautiful? And last week she was lamenting that her zucchini hadn't come in yet and was worried it wouldn't be as bountiful as last summer. Ha.

Anyway, for dinner last night I wanted to make something with this lovely vegetable. I feared zucchini bread, since my baking skills are too testy to risk on this guy, and decided to make panzanella - the lovely Italian vegetable salad with croutons in it. I looked up a few recipes, which mostly consisted of combining vegetable chunks (usually tomatoes and onions, maybe some mozzarella thrown in there) with day-old chunks of bread and a vinaigrette and letting it all soak in. It sounded good, but I really wanted to make something that centered around the zucchini - not masking it with a vinaigrette, cheese, or raw veggies.

So I played around and decided to do a roasted version - and then to let the juices of the roasted vegetables soak into the bread instead of a harsh vinaigrette. I didn't have any day-old bread, so I started my venture by cubing some ciabatta, tossing with olive oil, and making croutons in the oven.

While the bread was toasting, I cut the zucchini, one red onion, and one tomato (you might want to use two, but I wanted the zucchini to be the heart of the meal, not the tomato) into chunks about the size of the croutons, and tossed them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and two cloves of minced garlic.

Once the bread was done, I put it into a big bowl and kept the oven going at 350. I spread the vegetables onto the same sheet pan I'd toasted the bread on. (I'm getting good and minimizing my pan use now that I don't have a dishwasher.) I put them in the oven and let them roast for oh about 20-30 minutes, shaking the pan every once in awhile. By the end, they were turning golden brown and my whole apartment smelled like delicious roasted vegetables. (Not a huge feat, since my whole apartment is just one room.) I tossed them together with the bread while they were still hot and let the whole thing sit for about 3-5 minutes to absorb the flavors. Any longer would have made the bread mushy, the food cold, and well, I was pretty hungry.

If I do say so myself, it was absolutely divine, an abundantly flavorful dinner for one.

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