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Author Notes: I was inspired to create a winter "bread salad" after seeing a chicken casserole topped with bread in Everyday Food. Panzanella is my favorite summer salad and I wanted to make a warm, winter alternative that maintained the earthy flavor of vegetables and herbs and had the crunch of homemade croutons. It's not really a panzanella but I think this recipe does the trick. —NWB
- 16 ounces frozen spinach
- 1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon harissa
- 1 medium onion
- 1/2 bulb of fennel
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/3 cup dry wine (I used a Crianza)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 1/2 loaf stale baguette (I used frozen bread)
- 1 good squeeze of lemon juice
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 425. Lightly toast stale/frozen bread. Cut in half lengthwise and then cut halves in half again. Chop bread into bite size cubes. Toss with good dollops of olive oil and salt. Set aside. Mix ricotta and milk and set aside.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to large sauce pan. Add frozen spinach and cook for 3-5 minutes, until no longer frozen. Add salt to taste. Add all herbs and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Put mixture into strainer and set aside. Chop fennel, onion, and celery.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to pan and heat. Add chopped fennel, onion, and celery. Add salt to taste. Stir in harissa until well combined. Cook until soft. 5-7minutes.
- Add wine. Cook for a few minutes. Add flour. Stir for 1 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in cheese and milk mixture.
- Add spinach mixture to milk mixture and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add squeeze of lemon juice.
- Put mixture into baking dish. It can be refrigerated overnight at this point.
- Cover spinach with a thin layer of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Place croutons on top of the parmesan. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes until spinach is bubbly and croutons are golden brown.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Vegetarian Holiday Side
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