by Anita Lo
Chef's Notes: The first panzanella I ever had was at a restaurant called Il Cantinori in Greenwich Village. It's a thrifty bread salad that typically calls for tomatoes, but roasted broccoli is a delicious stand-in. The sauce of toasted walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and lemon gives it an added richness.
For the broccoli: Preheat the oven to 425 F. Cut broccoli into small florets. In a mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread across a baking sheet and roast until the broccoli is crisp-tender and beginning to brown, 15–20 minutes.
For the walnut sauce: Place walnuts, water, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. (The amount of water should be such that the sauce is thick, yet pourable.) Add lemon juice and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and more garlic (optional). Blend again; add lemon zest and salt and pepper as needed.
For the panzanella: Place bread cubes in a bowl with basil, olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice. Toss and press down to absorb the flavors. Add more oil, lemon, salt, and pepper as needed. The consistency should be "saucy."
For assembly: Mix the roasted broccoli into the panzanella. Taste, and adjust the salt and pepper. On a serving platter, spread walnut sauce and pile broccoli and panzanella on top. Garnish with more Parmesan shavings, olive oil, and a basil sprig (optional).
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