Good morning from beautiful Lake Tahoe!
We're out west skiing with friends to for a few days, but I wanted to make sure to squeeze in a few more posts in 2014. Despite my best attempts to fully write and pre-schedule each post before the holidays, it just didn't happen. However, I did create and photograph everything beforehand, so I’ll give myself a pat on the back for a partially-achieved goal.
The last few months have been incredibly busy, so I promised myself (and Dan) that I would fully settle in for some downtime over the next few days. I apologize in advance if my posts this week are a bit shorter than usual, but we all need a little r & r this time of year, right?
Speaking of r & r, I could rest and relax with a bowl of this panzanella goodness for a cozy minute or two…
Panzanella, or Italian bread salad, is traditionally made by tossing together tomato wedges, lightly-toasted bread cubes, basil, and sliced red onion in a tangy vinaigrette. I posted this classic panzanella recipe a few years back after Dan and I returned from our Italian honeymoon, and I love that version so much. BUT with the scarcity of juicy tomatoes during the winter months, it’s tricky to make that classic version. Thus, I figured I’d remix a winter-appropriate variation with root veggies and an herby-balsamic vinaigrette.
To make this panzanella salad, you’ll start by roasting cubed sweet potato, carrots, and parsnips that have been tossed in olive oil and rosemary. As the veggies near the end of their roasting, you’ll cube some crusty bread, drizzle it with olive oil, and pop it in the oven to toast up for 10-15 minutes. Then, you’ll whisk together your vinaigrette, which is made by combining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. This dressing is so flavorful and can absolutely be used on any and all salads you make this winter. It’s herbaceous, garlicky, and has just enough balsamic tang to keep you on your toes.
Once all three salad components are ready, you’ll add the veggies and bread cubes to a large bowl, pour on the dressing, and toss to coat. You can serve the salad immediately or refrigerate it for a bit to allow the vinaigrette to permeate the bread and root vegetables. As is, this recipe makes a hearty amount that will serve 8-10 as a side salad or 4-5 as a main course. I ended up making this on a Sunday for Dan and I to enjoy and brought leftovers into work for lunch a few days during the following week. If you use a hearty, crusty loaf of bread and toast it up nicely, it will maintain its crunchy, chewy goodness for several days. You can also half the recipe if you’re looking to make a smaller batch.
I love the way the subtle sweetness of the tender root veggies is balanced by the acidity of the vinaigrette, and the bread cubes sop up the balsamic and olive oil in the most wonderful of ways. Each bites boasts a variety of textures, colors, and flavors, and the vegetables impart vitamins and nutrients to boot.
Root Vegetable Panzanella Salad with Balsamic-Herb Vinaigrette
For the Vegetables
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
- 4 large carrots, peeled, sliced, and quartered (about 3 cups)
- 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
For the Croutons
- 1 crusty whole-grain, seeded, or gluten-free loaf, cubed (about 6-8 cups of bread cubes)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
For the Balsamic-Herb Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
To Make the Vegetables
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the cubed sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips out over the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To Make the Croutons
- While the vegetables are roasting, spread the bread cubes out over a pan that's been lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat. Pop the pan into the oven for the last 10-15 minutes that the vegetables are roasting. Bake until toasted (10-15 minutes), tossing halfway through baking.
To Make the Dressing
- Add the olive oil, balsamic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper to a small bowl. Whisk together until blended.
- Transfer the roasted vegetables and toasted bread cubes to a large bowl and drizzle with the dressing. Toss to coat.
- Refrigerate leftovers.