Semi-Traditional Panzanella

by Valerie on August 31, 2010 · 3 comments

Semi-Traditional Panzanella

I love the idea of panzanella.  Fresh summery flavors, crunchy bread soaking delicious dressing, and lots of basil.  There’s only one problem. I do not like raw tomatoes.  I do like salsa and other dishes with finely chopped tomatoes though, and I love peppers, so I decided to make this semi-traditional panzanella.  It contains the basic ingredients of tomatoes and peppers, with a ratio of lots of peppers to very little tomato.  Beyond that, it is pretty untraditional, containing gluten-free bread and tempeh.  The tempeh is seasoned with fennel and crushed red peppers and agave, making it both sweet and savory.  The salad has a subtle tomato flavor, but no soft soggy pieces of tomato – if you love raw tomatoes, by all means, substitute the grape tomatoes with juicy heirloom tomatoes or other tomato of your choice. 

Semi-Traditional Panzanella (Gluten-free, Vegan)
Makes two large main-course servings

For the bread and the crunchy tempeh:

  • 4-5 slices gluten-free bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 8oz tempeh, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tbsps agave
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 -1 tsp crushed red peppers
  • 2 Tbsps apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp tamari

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line two baking sheets with aluminium foil.  Rub both sides of the slices of bread with garlic, arrange on baking sheet and then brush top sides of the slices lightly with olive oil.  Place garlic clove next to the bread slices and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Put aside.  In a bowl, combine the tempeh with remaining ingredients, toss well to make sure all sides of the tempeh cubes are coated, and arrange on second baking sheet.  Put both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  At the 15-minute mark, turn the bread slices and brush with a little additional olive oil; also, toss the tempeh.  Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until both bread slices and tempeh are crispy.  Note: you may need a little longer – I found I needed a full 15 minutes after flipping the bread and tossing the tempeh before either were crispy. 

While the bread and tempeh are in the oven, prepare the salad. You will need:

  • 2 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsps red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 red peppers, ribs and seeds and top removed, and chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, ribs and seeds and top removed, and chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds and top removed, and chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut into fourths

Combine the olive oil through the pepper in a small bowl and whisk together.  Combine the peppers, red onion and grape tomatoes into a large bowl and pour dressing over vegetables.  Combine vegetables and dressing well and put aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

To assemble the salad, you will also need:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 30 basil leaves, about 1/2 cup of packed basil leaves (you can definitely use less for a less prominent basil flavor)
  • sea salt and pepper
  • additional lemon juice and/or red wine vinegar and/or extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Remove bread and tempeh from oven when both are crispy to your liking; also remove garlic clove, which should be brown and crispy on the outside, but gooey on the inside.  Cut bread into cubes about the same size as the tempeh.  Allow both to cool briefly.  Chop garlic clove and basil coarsely and add to salad, followed by the bread and tempeh.  Taste for seasoning. I found I needed to add a bit more lemon juice and vinegar, but that is up to you. This salad makes two large main-course servings, but could easily be used as a side salad for more people.

Notes: for a less time-intensive salad, you could substitute chickpeas or white beans for the tempeh for a vegan version, or any other protein you would like for a non-vegan version. If you do not maintain a gluten-free diet, I bet spelt or sourdough bread would  be lovely in this dish.

This delicious salad is lovely and indulgent – the bread is buttery and crunchy and soaks up the bright flavors of the dressing and vegetables.  I am submitting this dish Ito Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday – for the round-up for August 31, see here. This week is actually the one year anniversary of this event! Additionally, I am submitting this dish to The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s Gluten-Free Wednesday – for the round-up of September 1, see here.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda September 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I am with you on the tomatoes and would definitely use the grape tomatoes. Your photo is just lovely. Thanks for participating in Gluten-Free Wednesdays!


2 Amy @ Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free September 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I love this recipe – I made a tomato salad last summer with cornbread croutons which soaked up the dressing. To die for!!

I am also with you on raw tomatoes – I like them if the seeds are gone but there's something about the gushy middle I just can't take.

Thanks for linking up to SIT!! Hugs!


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