Panzanella is traditionally a salad made of tomatoes and chunks of stale bread. If you broaden your mind, however, you can make it out of anything. I had half a loaf of whole-wheat sourdough sitting on my counter, and wondered what to do with it. Then I remembered I had a bunch of Chioggia beets (the ones with candy cane striping inside) and some zucchini, and an idea began to form.
I trimmed the tops off of the beets and rinsed them, then boiled them in salted water. As they were cooking I cut the bread into one inch cubes and quickly toasted them in olive oil in a saute pan with a little garlic, salt, and pepper. When they were nicely browned on all sides I put them into a bowl and then did the same with cubes of green and yellow zucchini. Well I didn’t actually brown the zucchini pieces, I just cooked them quickly to warm them up and season them. Then I put them into the bowl with the bread. When the beets were cooked through I drained them, and the skin rubbed right off. Then I cut them into pieces roughly the same size as the bread and the zucchini, and added them to the bowl as well. I made a quick dressing of sherry wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, then poured it over the veggies and bread and tossed it all together. The next step is the most important: let it sit for a while. This lets the flavors all meld together — the acidity of the vinegar, the sweetness of the beets, the salt from the zucchini. And the bread soaks up all of the liquids and gets nice and chewy. It’s even better after spending the night in the fridge, and makes for a cool, refreshing meal.