Thursday, November 18, 2021

Fall Flavors: Roasted Beet Panzanella Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

With an array of fall flavors such a golden and red beets, gorgonzola, homemade croutons, and pecans this variation on a Tuscan bread salad is dressed up for the winter holidays thanks to a cranberry-juice vinaigrette!

Roasted Beet Panzanella Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and while I make all our traditional foods that everyone loves I also add 1 or 2 new side dishes for that year's menu.  It's a great way to try out new combination of flavors amongst all the standards.  I usually try a new salad and a new vegetable dish.  Today we are focusing on the salad.

Panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad that uses day old bread typically with tomatoes, onion, and cucumber.  Great for summer, but for the fall this variation uses special fall and winter treats!  Imagine a salad with beets (both golden and red), homemade croutons, gorgonzola cheese, and pecans and is topped by the most exciting vinaigrette that is made with cranberry juice

This salad is soooo yummy!  Don't skip the vinaigrette bring bright flavors to the earthiness of the salad ingredients and makes it pop!  This will bring great flavor and that extra special something to all your winter holidays.


What Ingredients do I need?

  • arugula and spinach mix
  • fresh mint
  • beets
  • shallots
  • French or Italian crusty bread (for croutons)
  • gorgonzola cheese
  • pecans
  • dried cranberries
  • olive oil
  • cranberry juice
  • red wine vinegar
  • honey

Substitutions and Variations

  • Use a mix of herbs such as parsley, mint or dill instead of the arugula spinach mix
  • Use fresh dill along with the spinach/arugula
  • Use another base such as romaine, green or red leaf lettuce
  • Boil the beets instead of roasting them
  • Use dried cherries
  • Use goat cheese or feta, or leave it out
  • Use walnuts or hazelnuts, or leave them out
  • Although homemade croutons are really good and simple to make, you could use a good store bought crouton

Kitchen Tips and Notes

  • Make the dressing first since you will use this to marinate the beets, shallots, and croutons when roasting.
  • Be cautious about using unsweetened cranberry juice.  Your vinaigrette will be very tart and may need to be balanced with more honey.
  • Shallots roast quicker than the beets, so add them with the croutons
  • Use a large roasting pan covered with aluminum foil that is sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Red beets tend to stain your pan and this makes for easy clean up.
  • Wear gloves when cutting red beets to avoid stains.  They will also stain wooden boards and plastic, cover with waxed paper before cutting to avoid stains.
  • DON'T SKIP the Vinaigrette!  This really brightens up the earthy flavors in this salad.

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Roasted Beet Panzanella Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

serves 6

⅓ cup cranberry juice
⅓ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 medium red and 2 medium golden beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 shallots, cut into wedges 
4 cups 1-inch artisan bread cubes (french bread or Italian crusty bread will work well)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 cups arugula spinach mix
1/4 fresh mint, chopped 

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 15x10 sheet pan with aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick spray and set aside.  For dressing: In a small bowl whisk together cranberry juice, vinegar, honey, olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper.

Place red beets and yellow beets side by side on a sheet pan, without touching to avoid bleeding.  Drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of the vinaigrette tossing each section to coat. Roast 20 minutes, stirring once. Place shallot sin the middle of the pan; drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the dressing, and bread cubes on the far end of the pan.  Toss with 2 Tablespoons of the dressing.  Roast another 15 minutes until beets are tender, bread is toasted, and shallots are roasted.  If shallots are done before the beets, remove them to a bowl and continue roasting. 

Add arugula/spinach mix to a large bowl along with the chopped mint.  Top with beets, shallots, and croutons. Add dried cranberries, pecans, and Gorgonzola cheese.  Serve with remaining dressing. 

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