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.
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.
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.
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.