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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 11/2 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.