Panzanella salad is a Tuscan salad of stale bread, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and fresh basil. It is usually dressed with olive oil and vinegar. And often enjoyed in the summer.
Inspired by this Italian salad, this springtime vegan panzanella salad recipe is savory from the garlic and shallots, tangy from the lemon, a bit smokey from the tempeh bacon, a bit herbaceous from the arugula, and with the slightest sweetness from the grape tomatoes.
The textures are awesome–crispy tempeh bacon, toasted bread cubes, roasted asparagus, and fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes. It’s all some serious wow. And it works well as a meal or as a side to Zucchini Basil Soup.
A few notes...
- ・You don’t have to use ciabatta. Really, any slightly stale, crusty Italian bread will work. Day old is best, because it’s easier to slice into cubes.
- ・You can either use homemade tempeh bacon or use store bought.
- ・A non-stick wok or a large non-stick skillet work really well for this recipe.
- ・It tastes best right after it’s been assembled.
As a variation, add a handful of roasted pistachios at the end. It’s a little crunchy, and works well with the flavors.
Vegan Panzanella Primavera
2 cups asparagus sliced on a bias into bite size pieces
2½ Tbsp (+ more to drizzle), olive oil
1 tsp (+ more to drizzle) lemon juice
1 shallot, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 loaf of ciabatta bread, cubed
1½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
½ cup arugula
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Vegan parmasen, to taste – optional
1. Preheat oven to BROIL on HIGH (or ~525º F). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non-stick aluminum foil. Spread asparagus in an even layer. Drizzle with ½ Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp lemon juice. Move asparagus around, so everything is coated. Sprinkle some salt and grind some black pepper over the top.
2. Broil for 10 minutes in the oven (watching closely, so it does not burn). Remove from oven, flip, and return to oven for 5 more minutes (watching closely once more). Remove from oven, and set aside.
3. In a large non-stick skillet or wok, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, the shallots and garlic over low heat. Sauté for 1 minute. Then, add the crumbled tempeh bacon, and turn heat up to medium-high. When the tempeh bacon reaches the level of crispness you like (I did mine for ~7 minutes), spoon it into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
4. Add cubed bread to the same skillet (or wok) that you crisped the tempeh bacon in. Over high heat, drizzle it with 1 Tbsp olive oil and move it around until it reaches the level of toastiness you like (I did about 5 minutes).
5. Dump the tempeh bacon back into the skillet (or wok) with the toasted bread cubes. Stir it around over medium-low heat for another minute. Add the toasty bread cubes and the tempeh bacon into the large mixing bowl.
6. Add the roasted asparagus, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and vegan parmesan (if using) into the mixing bowl with the bread cubes and tempeh bacon.
7.Drizzle everything with lemon juice (I squeezed ~1-2 tsp lemon juice on it) and olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Gently mix together and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed (more salt? more lemon juice?). Serve immediately.