5 from 1 vote

Roasted Eggplant Panzanella with Capers, Olives, and Pine Nuts {gluten-free, vegan option}

Sicilian sweet-tart flavors amp up this bread salad which tastes like deconstructed caponata. Optionally vegan and gluten-free. Inspired by Zuni Cafe's Warm Bread Salad.
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (15 g) dried currants
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 pound (450 g) eggplant (about 5 asian eggplants, or 1-2 globe eggplants)
  • 8 tablespoons (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces hearty white-ish bread, such as Bread Srsly Gluten-Free Sourdough, crusts removed if very hard, sliced thickly and torn into 1-2” chunks (4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar, more to taste
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, put through a garlic press or minced
  • 3-4 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (400 g), cut into chunks
  • ¾ cup (100 g) pitted Castelvetrano olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons (25 g) pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • Big handful basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tablespoon (10 g) capers, drained
  • 6-8 ounces (225 g) ricotta salata, feta, or mozzarella, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Place the currants in a small, heat-proof bowl and cover with the red wine vinegar and boiling water. Let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF.
  • Preheat your grill or a stovetop grill pan, if using. Slice Asian eggplants diagonally into 1” thick rounds or cut globe eggplants into 2” chunks. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a good sprinkle of salt. Grill (or spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast in the oven) until golden and tender, 5-10 minutes per side on the grill, or about 30 minutes in the oven, turning the eggplant pieces halfway through.
  • Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden on a couple of sides, flipping the bread cubes once, 5-10 minutes per side. Place the toasted bread cubes in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the champagne vinegar, pressed garlic, ¼ cup of the olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few good turns of pepper. Toss the bread with 2 tablespoons of the dressing, then add the grilled or roasted eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, basil, capers, and drained currants. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and gently toss to combine. Let stand 10-30 minutes; the bread will absorb moisture from the tomatoes and soften. If the salad is still dry, add 1-4 tablespoons hot water or vegetable stock. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve the salad right away, or cover and let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour or refrigerate for up to several hours. Serve the panzanella topped with plenty of ricotta salata crumbles if desired.
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