Beet and Corn Panzanella

Beet and Corn Panzanella
Serves 4-6
1 loaf day-old sourdough or other hearty bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (should be about 6 cups of bread cubes)
3 large or 6 small red beets (golden would work as well), roasted and cooled
2 cups cooked corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons honey
Approximately 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the beets and croutons
Salt and pepper
Goat cheese (optional)Begin by roasting the beets — wash them, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and wrap tightly in aluminum foil.  Place in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, then remove and allow them to cool in the foil (they’ll continue to cook that way).  (I did this the night before making the salad.)
Once the beets are cooked and cooled, the skins should slip right off.  Peel the beets and slice them thinly; if they’re large, cut the slices in half.  Set the sliced beets aside.

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking sheet, toss the bread cubes with a drizzle of olive oil, some salt, and pepper.  Bake them in the oven for 15 minutes, or until just golden brown.  While the croutons are toasting, make the vinaigrette.  In a blender (or with an immersion blender, if you prefer), combine the garlic, lemon juice, honey, and some salt and pepper.  With the blender running, stream in the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and emulsified.  You may need slightly more or slightly less oil for your tastes, so stop and taste the dressing at least once during the process to adjust as needed.
Combine the warm bread cubes, beets, corn, and basil in a large bowl.  Pour 1/2 of the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.  Depending on the density and texture of your bread, you may need more dressing.  Taste and add more dressing as needed.  (I used about 2/3 of what was made.)  Serve the salad immediately, topped with crumbled goat cheese if desired.