Autumn panzanella salad

This is a salad I found in Saveur around this time last year, and I've kept it close to my heart ever since. It made me realize that you can get all the herbaceous and savoriness of fall flavors without making a big ol' casserole or roast chicken. I had never before thought to use thyme, rosemary, sautéed shallot, and crispy pancetta in a salad, combined with big hunks of toasted bread.  And even though this salad might make its way onto a table alongside said glorious casserole or perfect roast chicken, it will seriously still hold its own—which is hard for any leafy green to do. Speaking of: baby arugula, I choose you all day / every day for my green of choice. Arugula is so packed with peppery flavor that it doesn't even taste like a form of lettuce. It takes dressing so well without losing its spice and crispness, and each piece is already in bite sized form, with such a pretty shape.

Autumn panzanella salad

Mostly unchanged from Saveur
Yields about 8 side portions
Ciabatta baguette, sliced, and then torn in half
2 T olive oil
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ lb pancetta, sliced to be the thickness of bacon
2 shallots, thinly sliced
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T honey
1 T finely chopped thyme
½ T finely chopped rosemary
¼ tsp salt
5 cups baby arugula
½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
½ cup dried cranberries
Freshly cracked black pepper

Toss ciabatta pieces with 1 T olive oil and pinch of salt, and place on a baking sheet. Move rack in oven to the uppermost position, and set oven to Low Broil. Place baking sheet on top rack, and broil for 2-3 minutes, until bread pieces are golden. Remove from baking sheet and set aside in a large bowl (or your salad serving bowl).

Cook pancetta in a skillet (working in batches if you need to) over medium heat until crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer pancetta to a paper towel lined plate. When it has cooled, add it to the bowl with the ciabatta. Add shallots to the hot skillet, and cook for a few minutes until they are soft. Transfer these, too, to the large bowl.

To make the dressing, use a bowl and a whisk, or a mason jar for easy shaking, to thoroughly combine olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, thyme, rosemary, and salt.

Toss baby arugula in the large bowl with the ciabatta, pancetta, and shallots. Pour dressing over and use tongs to mix. Top with pine nuts and cranberries, and lightly mix it up one more time.  Finish with a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper, and serve.