Winter Panzanella Salad ~ A WordPress recipe challenge

Winter Panzanella

Is a recent discovery for me. I like the word and the way it sounds, the way you have to shape your mouth and tongue when saying it. I also like words with z’s in 🙂

However new to me, it seems the internet is awash with it. Panzanella is typically a Tuscan summer salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and yes Panzanella bread. But we’re in the Alps in winter so it has to be a winter version. FoodFlowersHerbsandLife  posted this recipe a while ago, and it’s been lurking away in the back of my recipe mind to recreate it using homegrown squash.

Reading up on this dish there are lots of ways to make it. The basic starting point is stale bread, traditionally Panzanella (a Tuscan bread). Many a recipe cries foul if you make croutons, but as it’s a winter dish I think they are an absolute must. And besides we’re in the Alps and awash with baguettes!

Green Striped Cushaw Squash

I didn’t take photos of the process or the finished dish, the light levels in our apartment are appalling. So you will have to go over to FoodFlowersHerbsandLife  where there are some stunning and mouth watering photos. Here, you will just have to content yourself with some pumpkin porn shots!

I’m going to include it as part of my WordPress Recipe challenge.  The verdict? It’s a winner. We loved the flavour of the roasted squash and brussel sprouts, and the texture of the dish as a whole, with the roasted veggies, the crisp red onion and the garlicky crunchy croutons, plus the vinaigrette.

Confessions – I didn’t measure any ingredients out, and I didn’t have the particular vinegar or any cranberries. But the dish was still superb. How do I know? It will be repeated ad infinitum. Thank you :). So I’ve copied out the exact list of ingredients and method. A last note on the cooking – our cranky oven took a lot longer to roast the veggies, but then that might have something to do with the fact the gas bottle ran out!

Winter Panzanella

Ingredients ~

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 pound Brussel sprouts, with ends trimmed, and halved
  • olive oil
  • small handful of sage
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 small loaf sourdough bread, cut into cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Pecorino cheese
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup walnut pieces

Method ~

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On a large baking sheet add the butternut squash and Brussel sprouts.  Drizzle with olive oil, sage, sea salt and black pepper.  Using your hands, combine thoroughly.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.  Let cool.

In a measuring cup add the onion and champagne vinegar and soak for 15 minutes.  Just before adding to salad, whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the garlic and thyme and cook for one minute, watch garlic – do not let it burn.  Add bread cubes and stir to coat with the butter mixture.  Transfer to a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with Pecorino cheese.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring one or twice.

“In a large bowl add walnuts and cranberries.  Add croutons, vegetables and onions.  Carefully mix.  Serve immediately and enjoy!  Much better when the vegetables are slightly warm, but also good served cold for lunch the next day – if there are leftovers!”. There were no leftovers in this alpine apartment!

Gardening Notes ~

The squash I used was Green Striped Cushaw (C. Argyrosperna, Callicarpa), seeds from Pennard Plants. A beautiful looking squash to grow. Thin walled and very pale yellow flesh. Quite dry but firm. Having eaten it roasted I’m not sure I will rush to grow this beauty again, I prefer the Crown Princes for flavour. Either way I enjoyed growing it, photographing it and yes eating it.

Family Portrait 2011


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