It’s been strangely warm the last couple of days here in New York so I opted to save my line-up of soup and stew recipes and take on a lighter challenge: Winter Panzanella. Panzanella, or Italian bread salad, is a mix of homemade croutons tossed with your choice of assorted veggies and dressing.
I love the bright colors of the blanched Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash and vinegar-soaked red onions in this recipe I adapted from Michael Chiarello. Fresh sage and thyme give this healthy, simple side a seasonal twist, making it taste just as good as it looks.
Update: A big shout-out to BlogHer for featuring this recipe in their What’s Hot column!
For the croutons:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- 6 cups day-old whole wheat baguette, crust removed, cubed
- 8 Tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
For the salad:
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash
- 1/2 cup plus 1½ Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, then quartered
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Melt the butter in a large pan set over medium heat. Cook it until it foams, and then add the garlic and thyme. Immediately add the cubed bread, tossing well to coat.
- Add 6 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese to the pan and stir.
- Transfer the bread mixture to a baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.
- Bake the bread mixture until the croutons become crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove them and set them aside while you prepare the dressing.
- Combine the sherry vinegar and the onions in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Toss the squash with 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil and the chopped sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the butternut squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook them until tender, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain.
- Whisk the remaining olive oil into the red onion mixture.
- In a large bowl combine the croutons, roasted squash and Brussels sprouts. Add the onions and vinaigrette and toss well.
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Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello.