Roasted Beet and Carrot Panzanella with Shallots and Balsamic Vinaigrette

November 20, 2011 § 5 Comments

Roasted Beet and Carrot Panzanella with Shallots and Balsamic Vinaigrette

I first made this salad, less than a week ago, while trying to use some local produce to make a side salad. You see, I have decided to participate in a challenge this winter: the “Dark Days Challenge” which involves making at least one meal each week that is sourced entirely from local (100 mile radius of Portland, OR for me) ingredients even through the dark days of winter. When I don’t think too hard about it, I consider myself to be pretty good about eating local. This is largely because of quality: I don’t see the point of eating a tomato from South America in the middle of winter. It just isn’t good. My last grocery store visit made me realize that, as quality of produce is my my main motivation, my local-consumption can often be limited to perishable items; produce and dairy. There are certain things I am not going to be able to find locally during this challenge, like salt and certain oils. There are other pantry staples that I will choose not to find locally because they are already stocked in my pantry, like spices and vinegars. I would like to make more of an effort to restock my pantry with local ingredients and this first challenge got me off to the right start. I found fairly local (about 6x greater than the suggested 100 mile radius, but much closer than other ingredients my pantry) oils and vinegars. I don’t believe I can find a closer option for olive oil and the local options for vinegar are limited and are infusion-heavy.

Picnik collage

When I was gathering ingredients for this salad, I wasn’t planning on it being anything special. I was simply after some local greens and root vegetables to make a salad that would be the afterthought to my locally sourced farroto (except for the saffron which was courtesy of Marx Foods and this challenge; more on that in a few days). I wasn’t able to find any local greens and decided to go with a roasted local root vegetable composition with local shallots, toasted hazelnuts and a mostly local vinaigrette. The farro was delicious but not attractive and I didn’t feel the need to write about the most basic recipe for risotto (using farro instead of rice) when it looked like nothing special. The following day, I enjoyed the leftovers on buttered sourdough crostini and realized this “composition” could be even better as a panzanella. I made the same exact salad within four days (except I forgot the hazelnuts, but there is plenty of crunch without them) and thoroughly enjoyed it as a meal on it’s own. This is no side salad.

Roasted Beet and Carrot Panzanella with Shallots and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Not everyone likes beets. If you think you are such a person, try them roasted. This allows for the most appealing texture and their sweetness is amplified through caramelization. If you still aren’t crazy about that earthy flavor, the acid in the vinaigrette might help. If you still don’t like them, use parsnips or turnips or rutabagas. I used a bit of ground cloves in the dressing and on the croutons which add a nice warm flavor, but be careful not to add too much – a little bit goes a long way. Basically what I am playing with is the contrast of sweet (beets and carrots) and acid (balsamic vinegar) and the contrast of soft (beets and carrots) and crunch (toasted batard and raw shallots); the general premise can be replicated with any number of other ingredients.

Roasted Beet and Carrot Panzanella with Shallots and Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 year ago, today: Molasses Chocolate Chip Muffins


Roasted Beet and Carrot Panzanella with Shallots and Balsamic Vinaigrette:
– 1/2 lb carrots, cut into halves or thirds
– 1 lb beets, assorted colors, cut into pieces uniform to the carrot pieces
– oil
– salt & pepper
– 2 shallots, thinly sliced
– approx 6 oz batard or baguette cut in 3/4″ pieces
– 1/4 cup butter
– 1/8 tsp ground cloves
– balsamic vinaigrette to taste, recipe below

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place carrots and beets in a mixing bowl and add oil to coat, seasoning with salt and pepper. Place on baking sheets and roast for 30 minutes or until tender. Prepare vinaigrette while the the vegetables are roasting. Melt butter in a small saucepan and add cloves, salt and pepper. Pour butter over chunks of bread to coat and place on a baking sheet (this can wait until the vegetables come out of the oven if you don’t have a third sheet). When vegetables are tender, move them to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Lower oven heat to 350 degrees F. and toast bread in oven for 6-8 minutes or until crisped but still slightly spongy. Once beets and carrots have cooled for just a few minutes, slice very thinly – the beets into half-moons and the carrots into coins. Combine in a bowl with the toasted bread and shallots and dress with the vinaigrette.

balsamic dressing:
– 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
– 1 tsp maple syrup
– 1/4 tsp ground mustard
– 1/8 tsp ground cloves
– salt & pepper
– 1 1/2 cups oil

Whisk together all ingredients except oil. Slowly drizzle in oil while continuing to whisk. Pour a few tablespoons over the salad and place the rest in a glass jar for later use.

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