aka Butternut Squash Panda Elk
I have a lot of food rules. Whole grains! Less bread! Less sugar! No dessert! It’s exhausting.
In an attempt to be a bit more flexible with what I eat, and to reinstill my joy in cooking … and eating, I’ve been trying new recipes that I think both my husband and I will like. This winter salad is delicious. I adapted it from a recipe that was recently published in the New York Times and it is easily adjusted and reinterpreted to fit your taste and your mood.
It was a big hit and is now in regular rotation. When I texted my husband what we were having for dinner, “Panzanella” (bread salad) auto-corrected as “Panda Elk,” which is now our nickname for this dish.
Butternut Squash Panzanella
- 1 ¼ pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2” chunks
- Olive Oil (about 11 Tablespoons)
- 8 oz bread (stale bread is traditional – I used a high quality loaf of not-stale sourdough), torn into 1/2” chunks
- 10 oz sugar snaps, trimmed
- 3-4 stalks celery, chopped fine
- 1 small bunch arugula, rinsed, dried, and torn into smaller pieces
- 3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 4 oz goat cheese (optional)
- 2-3 Tablespoons pignoli toasted (optional)
Heat oven to 425° F. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast 25 minutes or until soft and caramelized at the edges, turning the chunks halfway through. Remove from heat.
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bread and toast until crisp, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Steam sugar snaps in microwave for about 2-3 minutes, still a little crisp.
Combine sugar snaps, celery, sage, 5 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Celery will soften and absorb the vinaigrette.
Combine squash, bread, arugula, vinaigrette mixture. Add cheese and nuts, if using.
Serves 3 as a main course and 6 as a side dish.