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Panzanella di Verdure

“I like this dish because it’s refreshing and very healthy,” says executive chef Pasquale Presa of Pasquale’s Ristorante Italiano in Edison. “Ours is a new twist on the traditional Italian tomato salad. We utilize fresh-from-the-garden summer vegetables along with local baby goat cheese from upstate NY—layered on top of toasted Italian bread. Try it with a nice pinot grigio or chardonnay."

Posted August 19, 2010

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Serves: 4


Grilled Vegetables
2 each zucchini
2 each yellow squash
4 oz olive oil
2 tsp. each rosemary, sage, thyme, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1 tsp. salt, as needed for taste
~1 tsp. pepper, as needed for taste
2 each roasted red bell pepper
3 each roasted red tomatoes

Basil Pesto (no nuts)
1 large bunch basil
6 oz. olive oil
5 oz. grated parmigiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Toasting Bread
4 each toasted Italian bread sliced into 1/4 inch thickness
1 oz. oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic or Fig Glaze
6 oz. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. fig glaze (available at specialty markets such as Whole Foods)

Finish & Garnish

16 each marinated artichokes, drained
4 slices goat cheese
2 T chopped parsley
2 T chopped basil


Preparing the vegetables to be grilled:

Wash all the vegetables and dry them.
Start by cutting the zucchini and yellow squash into long strips, 1/4 inch thickness.
Prepare a marinade of oil, fresh herbs, garlic, and pinch salt + pepper.Coat zucchini and squash.
Then place strips on grill and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
Allow to cool. Then cut the zucchini and squash into large pieces for plating and set aside.
Place the red bell peppers on grill + roast. Keep a watchful eye on the peppers to ensure that they do not become too scorched. When dark splotches begin to appear on the peppers, carefully turn each pepper over. Once fully roasted, about 10 minutes, the skin is easily removed. Allow the peppers to cool and peel skin, then cut into large julienne strips and set aside.
Quarter tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes. Once cooked, cool and set aside.
Fresh basil pesto:

Wash the basil in cold water. Bring a pot of water to boil on stove top and place basil in boiling water for 10 seconds. Immediately remove and place in ice bath to chill.
Squeeze the excess water from the basil. Place the basil in a blender and start to puree. Add the olive oil and parmigiano cheese slowly to properly incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Toasting bread:

Cut the Italian bread into 1/4 inch thick round pieces.
Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Toast in a 300 degree oven. Set aside for plating purpose

Balsamic glaze:

Place the balsamic vinegar in a small pan, and slowly cook to reduce to a syrup consistency.
Once reduced, set aside.

Assembling the panzanella di verdure:

Place in a medium bowl the cut vegetables: zucchini, squash, roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes, and artichokes. Season with salt + pepper, fresh basil and parsley, and mix slowly.
On a 12-inch salad plate, place 1 piece of toasted bread, then add the zucchini and squash on top of the bread. Place on top 3 roasted tomato pieces, marinated artichokes, and roasted bell pepper.
Drizzle the glaze (balsamic or fig) as a garnish on top of the vegetables, and top with the slice of goat cheese.

Finally, add 3 teaspoons of basil pesto around the vegetables. Garnish with chopped parsley and basil, then serve.

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