Zucchini shines in this take on panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad commonly featuring tomatoes. (Panzanella didn’t include tomatoes until the 16th century, and earlier versions featured onions as the main vegetable.) Here, scallions crisp up alongside the pan-fried croutons, which get a last-minute candying with maple syrup to provide extra crunch and insurance against sogginess. While the croutons are magnificent and dangerously snackable, the star of this salad is the zucchini. Cooked zucchini tastes wonderful, but the crunch of the raw vegetable in this recipe is stimulating and sweet, especially when doused with the punchy, garlicky dressing. To get vegetarian recipes like this one delivered to your inbox, sign up for The Veggie newsletter .
- Serves: 4 persons
- 3medium zucchini (about 1 pound), trimmed
- Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
- 2packed cups (1/2-inch) cubes of dense, chewy, day-old bread (5 ounces), such as sourdough
- 4tablespoons olive oil
- 1bunch scallions, thinly sliced at an angle (about 2 cups)
- 1teaspoon dried oregano
- 1tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1large garlic clove, finely grated
- 1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2teaspoons Dijon mustard
- ½cup Castelvetrano or other green olives, pitted and torn into halves
- 1packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
Step 1Slice 1 zucchini crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick coins. Slice the remaining 2 zucchini crosswise into 2-inch-long segments; press on each segment with your hand (and body weight) to crush so the two rounded sides are flattened, then tear into bite-size pieces. Add all of the zucchini to a large colander set in the sink, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and toss. Let sit to drain, about 30 minutes.
Step 2While the zucchini drains, heat a large skillet over medium. Add the bread and toss frequently with a wooden spoon until lightly browned and beginning to dry out, about 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, the scallions and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and toss until the bread is evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is crispy and evenly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. The scallions should be slightly wilted and browned.
Step 3Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup to the pan. Toss frequently until the bread is evenly coated and the syrup has caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and set aside so the croutons can cool slightly while you finish the salad.
Step 4In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 1/2 teaspoon oregano.
Step 5Transfer the drained zucchini to a clean kitchen towel and blot dry. Add to the bowl with the dressing and toss. Transfer the croutons to the bowl, along with the olives and parsley, and gently toss to coat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.