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Beet, Orange, and Blue Cheese Panzanella

Beet, Orange, and Blue Cheese Panzanella

Renée Robinson

How’s This for a Beautiful and Oh-So-Delicious Salad?

I’m back with another panzanella. It’s obvious I cannot ever eat too many of these bread salads. Put one of these in front of me once a week and I will happily gobble it down. Plus, the colors in this one are so spectacular it becomes even more irresistible.

I’ve mentioned it in the past, but it’s worth mentioning again that bread is the key factor in all panzanellas. If you’ve got wimpy bread, this salad will be a bust. You need a hearty and crusty bread in order for it to stand up to being soaked in dressing. I love for some of the bread to be thoroughly drenched and other pieces to still be chewy and dry in the middle. It’s what makes it SO good. I will include a link to the bread I make for this, but any good ciabatta type loaf will also work. All I do is cut up the bread, drizzle it with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and bake it in the oven in order to dry it out evenly.

Bread Cubes for Panzanella
Toasted bread cubes

I’ve never made one of these with beets, but I knew it would be great if I also added plenty of oranges. I first roasted the beets and saved the juice left in the bottom of the foil wrapped packet to add to the dressing.

Beets for Panzanella
Roasted beets

Then I cut up oranges – several different varieties. Using different oranges just made it more interesting, but you could use whatever kind of good oranges are available. 

Orange Sections
Orange segment/supremes

I made sure that I squeezed all the juices from the cut up orange membranes into the dressing. Then I went heavy on the mustard, plenty of minced shallots, tarragon vinegar and olive oil. Make sure the dressing is heavily seasoned with salt because the bread and beets will need quite a bit. 

After letting sliced red onions sit for a little while in the dressing, I stirred in the bread and beets, and let them sit for about a half hour in order to soak up the dressing. As you can see, the beets turned the salad a beautiful bright pink/red color. If you’d prefer, you could wait to stir in the beets until the last minute, but I think they need the time to sit in the dressing in order to be fully seasoned. Fresh chopped tarragon, parsley, pomegranate arils and chopped almonds were the finishing touches. But now I want to discuss the blue cheese I used.

I realize there are many people who don’t like blue cheese. I am not one of those people. I love it. But there is blue cheese and then there is blue cheese. I tried one that was new to me – Point Reyes Bay Blue Cheese. It is, without a doubt, the best  blue cheese I’ve ever tasted. It’s lightly sweet, buttery, and firmly textured. I didn’t need all of it for the salad and was thrilled to later eat it all by itself on crackers. If you’re a fan of blue cheese, I highly recommend it and urge you to try it out if you should run into it. I know it sounds trite, but the addition of the cheese to this panzanella really did up the ante of deliciousness.

We ate this for our complete dinner. Nothing else was needed. It was deeply satisfying on all levels.

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Beet, Orange, and Blue Cheese Panzanella

Recipe by Renée Robinson
Servings

4-6

servings

This panzanella is unique. Roasted beets, sliced oranges, and blue cheese are only a few of the ingredients that make it so special. It's as delicious as it is beautiful.

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Ingredients

  • 8 ounces 8 red beets, scrubbed and trimmed

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 3/4 pound 3/4 crusty bread, cut into rough 1 1/2 inch pieces. Click here for my bread recipe, or use any good substantial crusty bread.

  • Morton’s Kosher salt

  • Black pepper, coarsely ground

  • 7 7 assorted oranges (I used cara caras, blood oranges, and navels) peel (including white pith) sliced off

  • 1 large 1 shallot, finely minced

  • 1 heaping teaspoon 1 Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons 2 tarragon vinegar

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 medium 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 flat leaf parsley leaves

  • 3 tablespoons 3 roughly chopped fresh tarragon leaves

  • Heaping 1/3 cup pomegranate arils

  • 4 ounces 4 Point Reyes Bay blue cheese, crumbled

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400° with a rack in the center. Place the beets on a large square of foil. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Fold up the foil into a closed packet, place on a sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a paring knife. Let cool to room temperature. Open the foil packet and do not throw away the juices left in the bottom of the foil packet. These will be added to the dressing. Peel the beets. I do this by rubbing them with a paper towel. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes and set aside.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 350°. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place on a half sheet pan and bake for a total of 25 minutes, tossing midway through. You don’t want the bread to brown, you only want it to crisp up. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  • Holding an orange in your hand, over a large bowl, slice between the membranes, releasing each segment (supreme) into a smaller bowl. Repeat with the remaining oranges. Using your hands, squeeze the juice from all the membranes into the large bowl. Into the same large bowl, whisk in the mustard, reserved beet juices, 1 1/4 teaspoons Morton’s kosher salt, plenty of black pepper, and tarragon vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the shallots and sliced onions, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the toasted bread cubes and the beets. Let sit for about 30 minutes, gently stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the parsley (holding back a few leaves for garnish) and tarragon. Gently stir in the orange supremes and half the pomegranate arils. Taste for seasoning. Place the panzanella on a large platter, scattering the top with the remaining pomegranate arils, crumbled blue cheese, toasted almonds, and the remaining parsley leaves. Serve and Enjoy!

6 Responses

  1. OMG I was going to use your other orange salad for my cousin’s luncheon but now I’m intrigued with this one! eeny meeny miny moe, Yum

    1. Thank you, Joy! You’re right though. It really is an eeny meeny miney moe situation. Lol!! I can’t wait to hear which one you choose!!

  2. Question, I do not have tarragon vinegar, so could I use some fresh tarragon and 2 tbs of cider, white wine, or unseasoned rice vinegar as a substitute… and if so, how much tarragon would you suggest

    1. Hi, Linda! I would use white wine vinegar and add a couple teaspoons of minced tarragon to the dressing. That should be perfect. Please let me know how you like it!

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