Winter Crisper Panzanella

Last updated: 24 May 2021
Dietary: Vegetarian

Ingredients

200 g stale ciabatta or other crusty bread, cut or torn into fork-sized chunks
200 g kipfler potatoes, cut into ½ cm slices
1 sweet potato cut into ½ cm slices
1 eggplant cut into ½ cm slices (see tips)
2 small red capsicum (see tips)
1 red onion, cut into ½ cm rounds
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ radicchio, sliced
Handful of rocket leaves
1 ball of fresh mozzarella (optional)
Fresh parsley, leaves picked, stems chopped
Pomegranate seeds (optional)
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C with two oven trays inside.
  2. Toss sweet potato and potato slices in a tablespoon of olive oil. Place on a preheated tray and bake for 45 minutes on the top shelf of the oven.
  3. Toss the eggplant and capsicum slices, using another tablespoon of olive oil (use the same bowl you did for spuds, and sweet pots for soaking up the last of the oil). Line the second tray with baking paper, spread the vegetables across the tray with room around each piece, then cook for 30 minutes, checking and moving, flipping the eggplant halfway through.
  4. Toss the ciabatta, onion and garlic in yet another tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roast for the final 20 minutes, scattered across the potato tray.
  5. Once all done, toss together with the radicchio, rocket leaves, parsley and torn mozzarella (if using), and drizzle with the juices and oil from the base of each tray. Arrange on a serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, add another drizzle of olive oil and a splash of balsamic for good measure. Season to taste.

Top tips: Feel free to use good quality store-bought roasted eggplant and capsicum but pop them into the oven when the croutons go in to warm through before adding to your salad. Or at the very least pull them out of the fridge when you decide to make this, so they get a chance to come to room temperature.

This will totally work with store-bought sliced bread too, just be sure to chop into nice big chunks, because it’ll shrink a lot as it bakes.

Classically a staple of a Tuscan summer spread, the ‘pan’ in Panzanella refers to the stale bread croutons bobbing around the platter or bowl, soaking up all those 'tomato-ey' salad juices.

Translated to a winter crisper, this one’s about using what you’ve got: roasted roots, loose leaves – heck – even a jar of antipasti veg like chargrilled capsicum and eggplant! Think of the ingredients in this recipe as serving suggestions and springboards. Get cheesy with mozzarella, or crumbly ricotta, or leave them out completely. For an extra kick, sprinkle capers or anchovies. No matter what you add, be sure to be extra generous with the dressing, because that’s what the croutons are craving for, and will make that old bread better than fresh!

Recipe by Alice Zaslavsky for Sustainability Victoria

Alice Zaslavsky encourages people of all ages to find the joy in cooking and eating. She is the author of a number of best-selling cookbooks and co-hosts foodie radio talkback segments. Her television credits span multiple networks and demographics as host of Kitchen Whiz, Crunch Time, Short Cuts to Glory and Good Food Christmas. Her guest appearances include BBC Breakfast, Postcards, Freshly Picked with Simon Toohey and MasterChef Australia.