This is prime-time winter. It features winter squash that’s roasted with oil and honey so it gets a little caramelly (it’s a bonus that you don’t actually have to peel the squash for this recipe), and hearty greens that are a super-strong foil for the sweet squash and pear.
Cooking for Good Times
by Paul Kahan
SOFTEN THE BREAD In a large bowl, toss the bread bits with about half of the vinaigrette and let them sit for a minute or two to soften slightly.
PUT IT TOGETHER AND SERVE Add the squash, onion, pear, greens, cheese, salt, and pepper to the bread and give the salad a good but gentle toss, being careful not to break up the squash too much. Taste and, if desired, add the remaining vinaigrette and toss again or serve the dressing on the side.
*Not the baby stuff; it’ll wilt too much.
**A vegetable peeler works well here.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
If you’re in an apple cider vinaigrette mood, combine the apple cider vinegar, oil, shallot, mustard, thyme, honey, and salt in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Set aside until ready to use or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
MAKE THE ROASTED SQUASH Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut off the ends of the squash, slice it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut it into 1/4-inch slices.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the oil, honey, salt, thyme, if using, and pepper so it’s evenly coated. Roast for 8 minutes, or until the squash starts to sizzle. Stir everything around a bit and roast for 5 minutes more, or until the squash is golden brown and tender but not falling apart. Set aside.
*Not necessary if you don’t have fresh handy.
MAKES 4 CUPS
Choose Your Bread
(1) Sourdough’s the way to go, or ciabatta, which is a bit lighter and full of air and also a great sponge. That’s not to say that a great whole-grain bread wouldn’t be delicious, but those are my first choices. And your loaf of white bread is out. Sorry. Basically, the better the bread, the better the panzanella—obvious stuff. And it’s not the end of the world if you buy a loaf of bread for this recipe instead of using up whatever’s left over. Just slice it up thick and leave it out on a baking sheet overnight to dry out or gently toast it.
(2) Tear off the crust and set it aside. Tear the inside (the crumb) into approximately 1-inch pieces. They should be rough and shaggy—ready to be doused in lots of olive oil and butter. Then tear up the crust into roughly 1-inch pieces. Repeat until you have 4 packed cups of bread. You could also just get in there and tear up the loaf with your hands instead of slicing it first, but it ends up being more work that way since you have to go back in and break it down into smaller pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. (3) In a small saucepan, combine the bread, butter, oil, garlic, herbes de Provence or thyme, and salt. Place over medium-low heat until the butter has melted, stirring to mix well. (4) Spoon the butter-oil mixture over the torn bread. (5) Squeeze the bread as you toss it with the oil and butter so that it soaks it all up. Spread the mixture over a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for 10 minutes. Give the pan a good shake and continue toasting until GBD (golden-brown-delicious), another 8 to 10 minutes. (6) The bread should be crispy but not dried out and rock hard.
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Reprinted with permission from Cooking for Good Times by Paul Kahan, copyright (c) 2019. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.