Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pane di verdura (Vegetable Bread)

Vegetable bread is ideal to serve by itself or for brunch or dinner with fish, meat, or soup. Although the recipe calls for carrots, red peppers, spinach, asparagus, and corn kernels, any vegetable you have on hand can be used. It makes an ideal snack or light lunch with cheese and fruit.


  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/4 c. milk, warmed to about 100 degrees
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 c. flour (10 to 11 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. bran flakes
  • 1 stick butter, softened (1/4 lb.)


  • 1 small carrot, cut into 1/4-in. strips
  • 6 small asparagus spears, peeled
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, seeded, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1- to 1 1/2-in. strips
  • 6 oz. spinach, cleaned
  • 1/3 c. corn kernels
  • Egg wash made with 1 egg with half the white removed, beaten
  • 1 Tb. fresh bread crumbs

Place envelope of yeast, 1/4 c. warm milk, and 1/2 tsp. sugar in the bowl of a food mixer and proof for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture bubbles on top. Add the 2 c. flour, 1 tsp. salt, 3 eggs, and 1/2 c. bran flakes, and beat with the flat beater on speed 4 for 3 minutes. Add the stick of butter in pieces and mix on speed 3 for about 30 seconds, just long enough to incorporate the butter. The mixture should be sticky and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on time of year, heat, and humidity), until at least double in bulk.

For the vegetables: Place the carrot strips in 1 in. of water in a skillet and boil for about 5 minutes. Add the 6 asparagus spears and pepper strips, cover, and boil about 2 minutes. Then add the spinach and corn, cover, and boil 1 minute longer. Using a slotted spoon, spread the vegetables out in a large pan so they cool quickly.

When the dough has risen, push it down gently and place on a floured board. Spread the dough out by patting with a wet hand (to prevent the dough from sticking to it) into a rectangle approximately 11 x 13 in. Arrange the vegetables on top of the dough.

Roll the dough with the vegetables inside, using a dough scraper to scrape the dough off the table. It should form an oblong loaf about 12 in. long by 3 in. thick.

Butter a baking sheet and place the loaf on it seam-side down. Fold a piece of aluminum foil (about 2 1/2 to 3 ft. long) lengthwise into fourths. Butter the foil and wrap it around the bread. Tie loosely in place with a piece of string. This will hold the bread in shape, preventing it from spreading out too much on the cookie sheet. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Let rise at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Remove the string and the collar and continue cooking 10 minutes longer at the same temperature, for a total of 30 minutes. Let the bread rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. Cut the bread into 3/4-in. thick slices.

Arrange the bread on a serving plate. Slices can be served as a garnish to meat and fish or served with cheese. If made ahead, refrigerate the loaf and reheat for a few minutes in the oven so it is about room temperature for serving.