Rebel Bread founder Zach Martinucci views bread as a canvas for telling stories through food. Case in point: The South Broadway bakery’s popular Nonna G sourdough tells the story of Martinucci’s late grandmother, Nonna Gloria. “When she passed away five years ago, I wanted to make a loaf in her honor and memory,” says Martinucci, who is 27. “She’s my Italian grandma who was my culinary inspiration and life inspiration in general, so I made a loaf with all the ingredients she would put in her Sunday roast — roasted garlic, fresh sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, and olive oil. When we make these loaves, the bakery smells like her kitchen. ”
To that same end, Martinucci also believes bread can be a vessel for other flavors. For brunch, that means transformations like making decadent French toast out of challah or repurposing a day-old loaf of sourdough into croutons or a bread salad.
Martinucci’s love of food — brunch included — stems from growing up in a family that loved to cook and eat, he says. Food was such an important part of his childhood near San Francisco that he decided to major in culinary anthropology as an undergrad at the University of California, Los Angeles and, later, study professional bread- and pastry-making at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Martinucci also got hands-on experience when his dad’s cousin opened a French retail bakery in the Bay Area.
In 2018, Martinucci decided to strike out on his own. He moved to Denver and opened Rebel Bread, a bakery with a focus on education and community. “We started teaching classes to connect with people just beyond the transaction of buying bread, but really learning more about the stories and people behind it,” he says.
These days, he’s keeping busy with Rebel Bread’s new subscription pick-up and delivery service called Bread Clubwhich launched in March 2020 and recently expanded to include other bakeries, such as Mile High Pie Co. and Moon Raccoon Baking Co. (You can also pick up Rebel Bread’s carby offerings at the retail counter of their production facility on South Broadway, in various coffee shops and stores around the metro area, at farmers’ markets, and through select CSAs.)
But even with so many projects, Martinucci always makes time for brunch. Below, he shares his recipes for a veggie strata (a hearty dish similar to a bread-infused frittata) and greens and beans panzanella (an Italian-inspired bread salad) that are perfect for whatever spring produce you happen to have on hand.
Greens and Beans Panzanella
⅓ loaf of day-old bread
1 lb. kale
5 oz. arugula
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
1 lb. (1 can) of white beans
8 oz. of mozzarella bocconcini (little balls)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, salt, and lemon juice in a bowl. Add more lemon or salt to taste (it should be both tart and salty). Set aside.
Blanch the kale in boiling water for 5–10 minutes until wilted. Drain and set aside. Slice radishes into thin slices on a mandolin or with a knife; and finely chop the mint. Cut the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces. Drain and rinse the beans.Cut bread into ½- to 1-inch cubes.
In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together until thoroughly mixed and coated with the vinaigrette. It should be glossy and feel slightly overdressed as the bread will soak up some dressing. If it looks dry, add about ¼ cup more olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight). Let come to room temperature before serving.
Spring Veggie Strata
½ loaf of day-old Rebel Sourdough or 1 loaf of ciabatta
About 1 lb. or 1 bunch asparagus
About 1 lb. or 1 bunch chard
About ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley
4 oz. goat cheese
1 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, whiskey together eggs, milk, and salt until blended. Set aside.
Trim about 1 inch from the ends of the asparagus, then cut the stalks into 1-inch pieces. Blanch in boiling water for four minutes. Drain and set aside.
Remove the stalks from the center of the chard leaves, then cut the chard into 1-inch ribbons. Blanch in boiling water for one minute. Drain and set aside. You can blanch both vegetables in the same pot. Add the asparagus first; add the chard after three minutes; and drain everything after a total of four minutes. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Finely chop parsley. Crumble goat cheese. Once vegetables are cool to the touch, toss all ingredients into the egg mixture and toss with a spatula until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Before baking, toss the mixture a couple times to make sure the eggs are distributed evenly. Pour into a 10-inch round cast-iron skillet and press gently to fit. (You can also use a greased baking dish nine-by-nine inches or larger). Bake the dish for 30–40 minutes until the eggs have set. Allow to cool, then serve warm or at room temperature.