Winter Panzanella with Beets, Orange and Fresh Herbs

In summer months one of our favorite salads is an Italian bread cube and tomato-studded masterpiece, called Panzanella.  It’s made with day-old bread that’s firm and crisp, and soaks up the juicy tomato goodness creating a sweet and crunchy-soft bite.  In this winter version, orange takes the place of the tomato, creating a different sort of sweet that’s every bit as good, if not traditional.  We toss in some of the season’s favorite partners as well — roasted beets, crisp romaine lettuce and fresh herbs like parsley, arugula and cilantro.

(Serves 6)


  • 3 to 4 cups half-inch bread cubes, cut from day-old baguette or similar bread
  • 3 small purple beets, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for roasting beets
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
  • Salt
  • 2 large oranges
  • 4 cups leafy greens such as romaine, escarole or arugula, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs, roughly chopped (such as parsley, cilantro, dill and chives)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped or 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tablespoon bottled capers, rinsed and drained
  • 2 ounces goat cheese or feta cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place bread cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil.  Toast in the oven until lightly golden (about 5 to 10 minutes).  Remove from oven.
  2. Turn the oven heat up to 400 degrees. Place beets in a glass or ceramic casserole, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, cover with aluminum foil and roast until tender (about 45 minutes).  Cool.
  3. Whisk oil, vinegar, orange juice and garlic together in a small bowl.
  4. Cut the rind off the oranges (catching any juice in the dressing bowl) including the white pith just below the skin.  Cut flesh crosswise into slices. Then separate or cut the rounds into triangular segments.  Squeeze any remaining juice from the peel into the dressing bowl.
  5. Place bread cubes, oranges, greens, herbs, celery, olives (or pomegranate seeds) and capers in a large bowl.  Toss with dressing and allow the salad to sit for at least 10 minutes so the bread can soak up the dressing.  Top with beets and dollops or cubes of cheese just before serving.
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