I have a new found appreciation in my culinary taste. Beets are something that up until a few months ago was one of the only foods I would not eat. I tried them so many times and I wanted so bad to like them but I just couldn’t. Several months ago we were meeting with our supper club and someone brought roasted vegetables (beets included) as a side dish and I loved it. I was starting to realize that fresh beets that you roast in the oven are not the same thing as beets that come from a can, which my husband and mother both swear by. I am convinced beets from a can is really dirt with red food coloring. They taste NOTHING alike. After that supper club dinner I found this recipe for Maple glazed Root vegetables and made it for my family for Thanksgiving. This was the point I finally declared myself a fan of beets and I have been eating them nonstop since.
The inspiration behind this cornbread panzanella salad comes from a restaurant in Boone, NC where we had lunch one day while in the mountains. I was immediately intrigued when I saw it on the board featuring the days specials. I loved everything about that salad and as soon as we left the restaurant I told Jason I had to recreate it at home, which is exactly what I did two days later.
This salad is filling making it the perfect dinner salad, especially this time of year when most people are trying to add healthy eating back into their diets. Beets are highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants. Some of the health benefits associated with beets makes this food a good candidate in reducing the risk of many cancer types. In addition beets are high in fiber and a “cardiovascular health” friendly root vegetable. Healthy, nutritious, and delicious. It doesn’t get much better than that.
I chose to keep the cornbread soft instead of baking the cubes to a crouton like consistency so it could soak up all the dressing once it was poured on. This was indeed the right decision. Once the cornbread is cooked and the beets are roasted this salad comes together in no time at all. You could always cook the beets and cornbread ahead of time for a quick, easy and healthy weeknight dinner.You can use store bought or boxed cornbread mix but I recommend making my whole wheat cornbread, which is what I used.
This beautiful, rustic salad is everything and more. I ate this salad for lunch or dinner for four days straight. It’s unbelievably good. I can’t decide what takes it to a whole new level. The sweetness from the beets or the crunch from the maple glazed bacon. Perhaps its the bites of cornbread after they have soaked up some of the dressing. I just don’t know nor do I want to have to make that decision. Give this salad a try and let me know what you think.
- 2-3 cups cubed cornbread
- 2 beets, roasted
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- Maple Syrup, enough to brush over the bacon (1 -2 tbsp)
- ¼ cup red onion, slivered
- ½ cup goat cheese crumbles
- 8 cups fresh spinach
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the Balsamic Dressing:
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup good olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Make cornbread and set aside.
- While Cornbread is baking wash beets and remove the greens. Loosely wrap beets in tin foil and roast 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Allow beets to cool before removing the skin. The skin should easily peel away.
- Once the beets have finished baking, add bacon to a parchment lined baking sheet, arranging bacon in a single layer. Bake on 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove bacon from oven pour out excess fat from pan.Brush THE bacon with maple syrup then continue baking till crispy (5-8 minutes). Chop bacon into small pieces.
- Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. (You should have extra dressing leftover once it has been added to the salads. (Dressing will stay good for several weeks in the refrigerator. )
- To assemble the salad divide the spinach among four plates or bowls. Top each salad with equal amounts of goat cheese, red onions, beets, cornbread and bacon. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over each salad. Serve immediately.