Winter Rainbow Panzanella

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Dear colour. I miss you. Please come back soon.
Your pal,
Sarah B

I’ve joked before about the oh-so dark, single-toned, and super grey city Copenhagen becomes in the winter. After months upon months of this, I feel as if my eyes have turned into little slits, and only capable of seeing in black and white. Needing some kind of sign that I wasn’t turning into a subterranean mammal, I cycled down to the central market of Copenhagen last week to find some inspiration in the form of light and colour. I was pretty shocked when I arrived to see a plethora of vibrant veggies, all lined up and waiting for me take them home. I guess I’d gotten into such a routine with my shopping that I had failed to remember that winter does in fact offer a lot of brightly hued food, and that I am, undoubtedly, a human.

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Excited and hungry, I hurried home with a whack-load of produce and a plan brewing in my brain. Oh the colours! Oh the possibilities! Oh what a nerd I am! With some stale sourdough rye sitting on the counter and a knob of ginger in the fridge, a hearty, satisfying salad began to take shape in my mind, a rainbow swathe of vegetables stretched out before me like a beacon in a stubborn steel grey sky.

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Super Cool Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is a mysterious and intimidating vegetable, don’t you agree? I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this prehistoric looking creature, as many of you out there seem to be quite scared of even taking it home!

Well fear not. Kohlrabi is not going to take off a finger or worse if you approach it with a knife. It is a rather gentle and yielding brassica, a cross between a cabbage and a turnip that can be enjoyed cooked or raw. Its pleasantly crisp texture is perfect julienned in salads, but it’s also a tender treat roasted in the oven in slices or batons. The flavour is somewhere near to broccoli but a tad milder and sweeter. I really like it in soups as well, blended up with white beans or chickpeas. The leaves are also edible and very delicious in salad or stir-fried with garlic like collards or Swiss chard.

Key nutrients in kohlrabi include vitamin C, for fighting infection, vitamin E for preventing arterial plaque build-up, and a range of B-vitamins for combating stress. The potassium in kohlrabi helps the body maintain proper fluid balance, while the calcium manages the acid/alkaline balance of our blood. Other minerals in kohlrabi include iron, magnesium and zinc.

When buying kohlrabi, look for bulbs that are firm, smooth and free of holes or cracks. Typically this part of the vegetable is pale green, but you can also find purple varieties like the one pictured above. The younger ones can be eaten with the skin on, but as their season (late fall to early spring) stretches, you’ll find peeling the more mature bulbs is a tastier choice. The leaves should be taut and unblemished. To prolong the kohlrabi’s shelf life, remove the leaves and wrap them in a damp towel, place them in a plastic bag in the fridge for up four days. The root bulb can be stored separately in the crisper as well, and will keep well for couple weeks.

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To the panzanella! Traditionally, this is a salad made with stale white bread and tomatoes, a popular dish in Tuscany. My version is a far, Nordic cry from the classic, but it’s a meal in itself and a very satisfying one at that, since there is just so. much. going. on.

The key to building this dish, or any dish for that matter is layers and balance; flavours, textures and of course, colours. Taking into consideration that the base of this dish would be hearty winter greens I knew that I needed something creamy and yielding, like roast veggies, and something dense and crusty, like the Garlic Sourdough Rye Bread Croutons to contrast and compliment. From a flavour perspective, especially in salads, balancing tastes is very important for success. Because the roast vegetables are so sweet, it’s important to have an acidic hit to add brightness. I made some very tasty Ginger-Pickled Carrots in advance, but capers would also be a nice touch if you are pressed for time. The point is to step back and look at your dish as a whole, then adjust all the levels of salt, sugar, and acid as needed tipping the scales until everything is just right.

And just a special note about these croutons, because they are so darn delish. I first came up with these in the good ol’ days when I was cooking at a very small café here in Copenhagen, inventing new dishes every day and being creative with what I had available. The odd time we had any leftover rye bread, I would make these garlic croutons, few of which actually made it onto any finished dishes because I would typically eat them all up before service with my kitchen mates. They are addictive. The kind of thing you wouldn’t necessarily think of as a terrific little snack, but wow, are they ever hard to stop eating! There is a high amount of garlic-to-bread ratio, but because Danish rye is so rich and flavourful, you’ll need that amount of garlic to be heard. If you’re using a lighter bread, a spelt loaf for instance, you can scale back just a touch unless you really love your garlic and/or not planning on making out with anyone for a couple days.

This dish may seem component-heavy, but most of these elements can be made in advance so the whole thing comes together when you’re ready. The only thing you need to do before serving in fact, is massaging the kale and kohlrabi leaves.

Now excuse me as I dive face first into this bowl of rainbow ecstasy! Okay, good-byyyyyyeeee!

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*   *   *   *   *   *

Hey guys! I have some very exciting news…I’m going on tour with my cookbook! Although we are still working out some of the hard details, I wanted to let you know when and where I’ll be so you can make a note of it. It would be so rad to meet you, and I hope that you can come out and celebrate! I will update this page and post the events on my Events page and Facebook as they are finalized. Looking forward to it, more than you know!

My New Roots - Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every SeasonTORONTO
April 9 – 14

VANCOUVER
April 15 – 17

LOS ANGELES
April 18 – 20

NEW YORK
April 22 + 23

I hope that everyone who has pre-ordered the book is enjoying the Bonus Pack of recipes! Thanks for all of your very positive feedback so far. There is still time to get yours if you’re interested…click here!


My New Roots

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