Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tuscan Panzanella

This is one of those recipes that can occasionally frustrate me--more than anything because it calls for mixed greens, asparagus, tomatoes, and zucchini. In what area (except maybe California) can you find all of those things in season at the same time? I went for it this time though because I love the recipe and I've been off the local wagon a little more lately.

It's a good recipe. Curtis and I really enjoyed it, as did our guests. The garlic parmesan dressing was great. I think I'll try the process differently next time....maybe add the olive oil last instead of the milk. The dressing separated quickly and the oil wasn't emulsified, so I would like to try adding it very slowly at the end, like in mayonnaise, instead of at the beginning. I grilled the vegetables and bread, but you the original recipe calls for them to be roasted in a 450 degrees oven.

Tuscan Panzanella
from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Dressing
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 c cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 t salt
1/2 c whole or 2% milk

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4" thick slices
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4" thick slices
2 large bell pepper, halved and seeded (assorted colors are nice)
1 T olive oil
12 - 16 fresh asparagus, stemmed and cut into 2" pieces
2 c tomatoes, chopped
8 c mixed field greens
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste
2 t minced fresh basil, parsley, or thyme
1 large loaf of crusty French or Italian bread

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor, adding the milk last while you puree or process. Whirl for 30 - 45 seconds, until the dressing is the consistency of a light mayonnaise. Set aside.

Lightly brush the zucchini and squash slices and bell pepper halves with olive oil. Place bell pepper halves, zucchini, and squash on preheated grill. Roast until bell pepper halves are charred on the skin side and zucchini and squash are beginning to brown and are tender. Place roasted bell pepper halves in a covered bowl or plastic bag for 10 minutes to steam. Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes in a boiling pan of water. Drain and plunge into cold water to cool. Drain again and set aside. Place the tomatoes and greens in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and herb and set aside.

Peel the charred skin off the peppers and cut them into 2 inch pieces. Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise and place on hot grill for 5 - 10 minutes to crisp. Add the vegetables to the bowl of tomatoes and greens. Just before serving, toss the salad with reserved oil and vinegar mixture. Cut the bread into 1" cubes and add them to the salad. Serve with a generous spoonful of the creamy garlic parmesan dressing.

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