Sometimes I forget that most of the country is at the mercy of a cold winter. It’s like San Francisco and the sun worked out some kind of agreement, so we can just skip the cold weather altogether and participate in outdoor activities that probably involve food and drink. Oh, to be anything but a San Franciscan seems quite unimaginable at times.
I was inspired to make this winter panzanella style salad by the beautiful weather. I wanted to create a salad fit for summer sunshine but hearty enough to compromise an entire meal. Panzanella is a Florentine salad that uses stale soaked bread, and is most popular in the summer seasons. Don’t be fooled by the rustic toasty bread, as the main act lies within the golden roasted beets and roasted fennel with orange zest. It’s positively yummy.
5 large golden beets, roasted, peeled and chopped
2 large fennel bulbs, sliced, and roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 loaf of french bread, cut into cubes and soaked in olive oil
1 head of butter lettuce
1 cup of goat cheese
1/4 cup of pine nuts, toasted
1 cup of simple garlic lemon dressing
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Chop bread into 1″ cubes and soak with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Season with sea salt, and roast in oven for 15 minutes or until crispy.
2. Clean and prepare beets. Slice off tops and stems, and arrange in a deep baking dish or dutch oven. Fill dish with enough water to cover half of the beets or 1″. Cover and roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until beets are just tender and can be pierced with a fork. Remove from oven, and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove skins when cool enough to handle, and chop. Add sea salt to taste and a few dashes of sherry vinegar. Set aside.
3. Once the beets are in the oven, clean and prepare the fennel. Remove bottoms and stems, and slice into thin strips. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and toss with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. Bake alongside the beets for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, season with orange zest, and set aside.
Simple Garlic Lemon Dressing
2 garlic cloves
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp honey
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.