Roasted Winter Panzanella Salad

Sweet, bitter, spicy and tangy- these flavours come together to make this salad an unforgettable one! You won’t find fresh garden tomatoes and basil in this panzanella- it’s inspired by winter, featuring seasonal vegetables like fennel, carrots and red onions.

This salad features a variety of textures and temperatures too- a playground for the senses! Fresh and juicy apples, radicchio and carrots offer contrast to soft and sweet roasted fennel, red onion and radishes.

Have you ever tried roasting radishes before? Their flavour changes from peppery and sharp to mellow and sweet- almost like an entirely different vegetable! You should really give them a try if you haven’t already.

Boycott the idea that salads have to be boring and unsatisfying with this super delicious and hearty roasted winter panzanella!

2 bunches of radishes, trimmed, larger radishes halved
1 fennel bulb, sliced into wedges (save the fronds for garnish, if desired)
1 red onion, sliced into wedges
1 head radicchio, core removed and leaves separated and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 large carrot (I used an heirloom carrot), peeled into ribbons
1 apple (skin left on), thinly sliced
3 pieces stale pumpernickel bread (or any bread)
Olive oil or butter for toasting the bread

For the pecans:
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 tsp maple syrup
Black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper

For the dressing:
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon
1/2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

1) Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare radishes, fennel and red onion for roasting- place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (you’ll probably need 2) and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-35 minutes, until softened and beginning to brown at edges. Remove and set aside.

2) While veggies are roasting, prepare the bread and pecans. Preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of 3 large slices of pumpernickel bread with olive oil or butter and add to frying pan. Fry until golden brown and crispy- you may have to press the bread down firmly to ensure it browns evenly. Let cool slightly, then tear roughly into pieces.

3) In the same frying pan used to toast the bread, add the pecans, maple syrup, black pepper and cayenne. Toss to combine. Cook, stirring often, until toasted- about 5 minutes. The sugars should cling to the nuts as they cook as well. Set aside to cool (they will become more crisp as they cool).

4)  Prepare the dressing. Place all dressing ingredients into a small mason jar and shake it vigorously to emulsify.

5) Assemble the salad! Add the remaining ingredients (radicchio, carrot ribbons, sliced apple) to a large bowl.  Add the roasted veggies, candied pecans and bread. Drizzle the dressing over top and toss to combine. Add fennel fronds for garnish.

*Note: If planning to reserve some salad as leftovers, keep the croutons and dressing separate, and add the apple just before serving.