Roasted asparagus and beet panzanella

March 10th 2014

The best cooks in the world know how to get the most bang for their buck. Italian panzanella is a prime example of repurposing ingredients. Panzanella utilizes leftover, even stale bread and makes it a showstopping salad.

Panzanella is great because depending on what is in season you can use that produce to make different variations. Spring hasn't quite sprung yet...but the beginning of asparagus season has and I bought some beautiful spears that I thought would be perfect roasted, I also had a few beets I had roasted off and peeled earlier, and a nice, locally made baguette that was past its prime. The result was easy, delicious, and a perfect example of waste not want not. Great for a potluck, I'm sure if you whip up a bunch it won't last long. As always this is a guideline to make your own creation, use what you have and what you prefer, but I would suggest you try this combination at least once!
You will need:
1 day old baguette, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesano reggiano, grated
4 small beets, cooked and sliced
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 oz crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. On a sheet pan drizzle a few tbsp of olive oil, lay sliced baguette in one layer, drizzle top with a few more tbsp of oil, sprinkle with parmesan, a bit of salt, and some cracked pepper. Bake until golden about ten minutes. Put your toasted bread in a bowl and on the same sheet pan place asparagus with the rest of the olive oil, salt and pepper, and pepper flakes, place oven to broil, and when heated place asparagus under the broiler for 5 minutes, flip the spears and cook another 5 minutes or less, until tender and browned. Pour lemon juice over asparagus, and when it is cool enough to handle chop in to large pieces and pour them onto your bowl of toasted bread, making sure to get all the juice and oil in as well because this make your dressing automatically. Add your cooked and sliced beets and red wine, gently mix trying not to bleed your beets into the bread, top with feta, Mange!