Panzanella with Italian Sausage

I’m a huge fan of throwing a bunch of stuff in a bowl and calling it something.  Panzanella has been floating around the back of my mind for some time now.  I was first inspired by several panzanella recipes on foodgawker, and then I did some research on Wikipedia.  Turns out that panzanella is an Italian way of using up leftovers and cleaning out your produce drawer.  What follows below is really more of a method than a recipe.  Adjust the amounts of things to your tastes, swap out veggies for what you have on hand, and add whatever protein strikes your fancy.  Or, skip the protein and make this into a flavortastic light side dish.  🙂

If your bread is not very old, or if you like crunchy bread, toast your cubes a bit in the oven before assembling the dish.  This panzanella is extremely versatile.  Next time I make it I think I will add some chopped fresh basil, and perhaps some shaved parmesan or some torn up fresh mozzarella.

This dish came together unbelievably fast, and turned out delicious and satisfying.  As an individual who pretty much hates vegetables, it’s a compliment to this recipe that I cleaned my plate of all its squash, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.  The bread soaks up all the flavors but does not get soggy because it’s day-old (or toasted, whichever you prefer).  My bread was actually several days old, so stale and crunchy that I was afraid it would ruin the dish (it didn’t).  For that reason, I didn’t toast it.  However, next time I make this–because, oh yes, there will be a next time–I will use slightly less stale bread and toast it for a minute or two while the veggies are broiling, just to try a different texture.

Panzanella with Italian Sausage
Inspired by Wikipedia, The Bitten Word, Baked Bree, and Macheesmo

1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 small head broccoli, chopped
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into eighths
12 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 a day-old baguette or other crusty bread, chopped into 1-inch chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar (or your favorite)
Salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to high broil setting.  Place all vegetables in a sturdy roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under broiler until vegetables are tender and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.  (Alternatively, you could grill your veggies.)

Meanwhile, place the Italian sausage in a skillet, and cook over medium-high heat until well browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste.  Allow the bread to soak up these liquids a bit.  Add crumbled sausage and its juices to bread cubes and stir to evenly distribute.  Add broiled vegetables and their juices to bowl, and stir well to combine flavors.  Set aside a few minutes to allow bread to soak up juices.  Enjoy!


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