Summer Panzanella

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Essentially a bread salad with lots of fresh produce, panzanella is the perfect summer dish. Let the farmers’ market dictate what you include. In this recipe, which comes from Tyler Florence, peaches and corn are used for a pop of sweetness. You can roast the beets or shave them and leave them raw—or do both, as is done here. It’s a refreshing side dish for summer nights at the grill.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium red beets
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 red heirloom tomatoes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, preferably day-old
  • 5 tomatoes of various colors and sizes
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 peach
  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1/4 red onion
  • Niçoise olives for garnish
  • A few leaves of fresh herbs, such as marjoram, basil, Thai basil or mint, for garnish
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./45 g) fresh ricotta cheese
  • A few chive tendrils for garnish

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly coat 2 of the beets with olive oil and set on a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap them loosely, but fold all the edges shut so that they’re in a pouch. Roast for 35 minutes, or until you can insert a knife into them easily. Using a mandoline, thinly shave the remaining raw beet. Set aside separately.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Cut the two red heirloom tomatoes in half and sprinkle generously with salt. Let them sit for a few minutes, then place them in a blender. Add the red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup olive oil and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tear the bread into bite-size pieces. You want the pieces to have a rustic look, so don’t use a knife. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour just enough olive oil to coat the pan. Working in batches if necessary, add the bread to the pan in a single layer and toast, tossing the bread occasionally, until it’s crisp on the outside but still has some chew.

To assemble the salad, cut the vegetables as follows and transfer all to a large bowl as you finish cutting them. Cut the remaining tomatoes into both wedges and slices to create a variety of shapes. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, then cut diagonally into thick slices. Cut the roasted beets and the peach into wedges. Slice the kernels from the ear of corn. Slice the red onion into thin rounds, then break into smaller circles.

Add the vinaigrette to the vegetables and toss to coat. Add the toasted bread and toss again. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter. Top with the shaved raw beet, olives and herb leaves. Top the salad with dollops of fresh ricotta and a few long chive tendrils. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Inside the Test Kitchen: 120 New Recipes, Perfected, by Tyler Florence (Clarkson Potter, 2104)