Serves a Crowd

Winter Panzanella with Orange, Roasted Beets, and Pomegranate Seeds

November 18, 2012
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

To our minds the most masterful use of stale bread occurs in Italian cuisine, where a few leftover slices are the basis for a most heavenly salad with fresh summer tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. We turn to panzanella when our garden overflows with tomatoes -- and are heartbroken once the deluge finally runs dry. A few years ago as we contemplated a loaded backyard orange tree, it dawned on us that winter fruit would carry our favorite salad through cold weather, sweet citrus supplying the juice that toasted bread ably soaks up. We add other stars of the season too, such as pomegranate seeds and roasted beets, plus a handful of fresh herbs. The quantities are fluid -- more or less of any of the fruits and vegetables works just as well. Sometimes we substitute olives for the pomegranate, or fennel for the celery. It just depends on what’s in the fridge.Toasting the stale bread adds flavor and means it retains a bit of crunch, even while soaking up a generous dose of juice. —Ann S

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Ann S lives in the Bay Area and loves cookbooks and tea.
WHAT: A bright, citrusy take on the classic panzanella.
HOW: Toast your stale bread, roast your beets, then combine all the ingredients in a big bowl. Serve proudly.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This is everything you want out of a salad in the winter: the softened-but-still-crusty bite of bread, the pop of citrus, the salty tang of feta, the sweetness of the beets and pomegranate. We'll be eating bowls and bowls of this until the weather gets warm again. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch bread cubes, cut from stale baguette or similar bread
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for roasting beets and toasting bread
  • 2 medium purple beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt
  • 2 large oranges
  • 2 cups leafy greens such as romaine, escarole, or butter lettuce, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 cups arugula, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mixed herbs such as cilantro, chives, and dill, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon bottled capers, drained
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Toast bread in the oven until golden and crisp (5 to 10 minutes). Remove from the oven and cool.
  2. Turn the oven temperature up to 400° F. Place beets into a glass or ceramic casserole dish, drizzle with a bit of oil, add a splash of water, cover with foil and roast until tender (about 45 minutes). Cool.
  3. Whisk oil, vinegar, orange juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl.
  4. Cut the rind off the oranges (catching as much juice as possible in the dressing bowl) including the white pith just below the skin. Cut the oranges crosswise into slices, then separate or cut the rounds into triangular segments. Squeeze any remaining juice from the peel into the dressing.
  5. Place bread cubes, oranges, greens, herbs, celery, and capers into 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. Stir periodically. Top with beets, cubed feta, and pomegranate seeds before serving.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • jill
  • lois
  • cookycat

5 Reviews

jill October 27, 2021
yummy! I added toasted walnuts and substituted manchego. One recommendation: roast the beets first (then let the oven cool a litte, toast the bread, & complete the rest of the recipe). This will give you a bit more time for your beets to cool - if not, you'll have the rest of the recipe ready and waiting - and some extremely hot beets!
lois October 8, 2018
I made this last night. There's a lot going on with this salad but it works! I don't like beets so I substituted fennel and winter squash. I had some ricotta salata so I shaved that on top rather than buying feta. Otherwise, I made as directed. Very good! As you would expect (dressed greens, toast cubes), the leftovers don't hold up all that well so scale down if you don't think you will finish it the day you make it.
AntoniaJames February 20, 2018
Perfectly lovely. Definitely on the must-try list. ;o)
cookycat December 26, 2016
Had this last night at a lovely Christmas dinner hosted by my sister in law and brother. This salad is delicious better than the rest of the meal and better than all the Christmas sweets. It was so good I brought some home and ate it at 10:00 at night.
Shortrib October 5, 2015
We had this tonight without the bread. Sorry about that, but it was delicious just the same. The beets, orange, and goats cheese are a great combination. I'd certainly do it with fennel and without pomegranate if I didn't have it, and experiment with herbs. Thanks for the inspiration!