Roasted root and feta ‘panzanella’ with crispy sage

Traditionally panzanella is a Tuscan salad consisting of an abundance of tomatoes and croutons however I have given it a vegetable twist! I have used elements of the traditional method and balanced a selection of root vegetables and herbs to give a fresh finish. Although the addition of feta is not exactly in keeping with the original, I think it adds a sharpness which enhances the sweetness of the vegetables.

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Ingredients- serves 4 as a main
For the vegetables

2 beetroot- peeled and cut into wedges
Half a butternut squash- peeled and cut into chunks
2 red onions- peeled and cut into wedges
Salt and pepper
Fresh thyme and sage leaves
3 garlic cloves
3-4 small slices of day old bread- I used seeded sourdough
150g feta

For the dressing
3 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp runny honey

1. Start off by making sure all the veegtables are prepped and ready to go! Preheat the oven to 190c/ 160 fan. Take the beetroot wedges and place them in a baking tray, toss in a light coating of olive oil and season. I used smoked salt instead of normal salt as this is my latest fascination but normal is fine. Cook for around 20 minutes.

2. After the beetroot have been started off place the rest of the vegetables in a larger baking tray, mix together all the dressing ingredients and toss. Add in a good helping of fresh thyme springs and nestle the whole (not peeled) garlic cloves in amongst. Roast for around another 20-25 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. When they are ready I fished out the garlic and squeezed it from it papery coating before mixing it through the vegetables to add an extra layer of flavour.

3. While the vegetables are cooking away you can cut the bread into chunks and place of a baking sheet with a light drizzle of olive oil. In the last 5 minutes of the vegetables cooking, place onto the bottom shelf of the oven to crisp and go golden, turning half way. I finished my panzanella with a few sage leaves so this can also be prepared now; simply wash the leaves and pat dry with kitchen towel. Heat a small amount of oil in a small frynig pan and fry the leaves in batches. I used relatively large leaves which took around 30 seconds each side but watch to make sure they don’t burn or discolour. I held the leaves flat in the pan with a fork too. When fried, remove and blot onto kitchen towel.

4. Toss the croutons through the tender, sweet vegetables and pile onto a large serving plate. Finish off by sprinkling little chunks of feta over and adding the crispy sage leaves in top.

Roasted root vegetable and feta panzanella with crispy sage- fresh, vibrant and oh so delicious!

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