Winter panzanella salad with crumbed corn and ricotta fritters, and a blue-cheese dressing
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 2 (about 350g) large beetroots, peeled and cut into thin wedges
- 600g crown pumpkin, thickly sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 180g bread, torn into chunks
- 45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
- handful radicchio leaves
- handful fresh basil leaves
- 4 large eggs, poached
- BLUE-CHEESE DRESSING
- 15g butter
- 1 (about 20g) spring onion, finely chopped
- 5ml (1 tsp) garlic, finely chopped
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- 5ml (1 tsp) wholegrain mustard
- 125ml (½ cup) fresh cream
- 125ml (½ cup) milk
- 85g blue cheese, crumbled
- 15ml (1 tbsp) red wine vinegar
- CORN AND RICOTTA FRITTERS
- 75g bread, torn into chunks
- 1 x 410g tin whole kernel corn, drained
- 230g ricotta
- 55g Cheddar, grated
- 10ml (2 tsp) garlic, finely chopped
- 5ml (1 tsp) salt
- 5ml (1 tsp) sugar
- 2,5ml (½ tsp) paprika
- 65g cake flour
- 2 large eggs, whisked
- sunflower oil, to deep-fry
For the salad, preheat the oven to 200°C. Pour the 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil over the beetroots and pumpkin and season to taste. Place them on a baking tray and roast until tender, 30 – 40 minutes.
Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Toss the 180g bread and 45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil together. Season lightly and fry the bread chunks until lightly charred on both sides. Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes. Keep the oven on for later use.
For the dressing, melt the butter in a warm saucepan over medium heat. Add the spring onion, 5ml (1 tsp) garlic and sage and sauté, 2 minutes. Add the mustard, cream, milk and blue cheese and gently cook until the cheese has melted, 5 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar. Allow it to cool slightly before adding to a food processor and blending until smooth. Season to taste. The dressing can be served warm or cold.
For the fritters, place the 75g bread chunks on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the bread over and bake for a further 5 minutes. Place in a food processor and blitz until fine.
Stir the corn, ricotta, Cheddar, 10ml (2 tsp) garlic, salt, sugar, paprika and a pinch of black pepper together. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Use your hands to roll 20 small balls from the mixture. Rinse your hands regularly to prevent the mixture from sticking to your hands.
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep pot to 180°C. Dip each ball into the remaining flour, then into the whisked eggs and, lastly, into the breadcrumbs. Once coated, fry them off in the warm oil until crisp and golden, 3 – 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel.
Toss the toasted bread chunks together with the cooked beetroot, pumpkin, radicchio leaves and basil. Transfer to a serving dish and arrange the poached eggs and fritters on top. Serve with the dressing on the side.
One generic slice of bread is around 25g. If you are working with unsliced bread, simply tear it into chunks when baking it off during the making of the breadcrumbs. Red radicchio leaves add a lovely depth of colour to this rustic salad. If you cannot find radicchio, replace it with chopped endive leaves, which have a similar bitter taste, or simply use some rocket, which will be slightly more peppery.