When we got married, we had the most adorable woman catering our wedding. She was hilarious and so sweet. In one of our conversations, she started talking about Tyler Florence, and referred to him as “a little slice of heaven.” A couple weeks ago, I caught an episode of his, and he made a salad that looked just incredible. I mentally added those ingredients to my next farmers market list, determined to make it. And when I did, OMG. If it’s possible for a salad to be a little slice of heaven, well, this is it.
Like most recipes anywhere, but especially for salads, the original is way too complicated. I skipped a lot of steps and ingredients. It was still delicious. The basics are beets, greens, and toasted bread. The ingredients all taste good together, and none are so delicate as to be overpowered by the others. So, just play around with proportions and just work with what ingredients you have. Because this was my dark days meal, I skipped a few things (goat cheese, balsamic vinegar) that wouldn’t have been local, and nothing was missed.
Winter Panzanella Salad
adapted from Tyler Florence
Greens (recipe recommended arugula, I used baby chard. Radicchio would probably be amazing.)
Italian bread, cut into crouton size pieces
Salt and pepper
Spread the bread on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and bake on 350 until they start to become dry and crispy, like croutons, about 10-15 minutes, depending on how big your cubes are. When they are done, add to a large salad bowl.
Scrub the beets and cut them in half. Cut the shallots in half. Place on some tin foil, drizzle with oil, and wrap up. Roast in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until the beets turn soft (mine took about 40 minutes).
When the beets are done, pour off the juices into a bowl (this is why you should wash the beets first). Peel the beets and cut in to 1 inch chunks and put in a large salad bowl with the bread. Mash up the shallots and add those to the roasted beet liquid.
Pit the dates and chop them into smaller chunks. Add to the beets and bread. Chop of the salad greens if needed and add those to that mixture.
Juice the orange or whatever citrus you have, and add that to the beet liquid. Add a bit of honey and some vinegar if you’d like.
Dice the pancetta, and cook in a skillet. When it’s cooked, pour that and the fat into the beet liquid with the citrus and honey. Whisk together, pour over the salad, and toss. If you want, add goat cheese. Blue cheese would be good too. But even without the cheese, the salad was incredible and made for a super delicious weeknight dinner.