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Roasted Fall Vegetable Panzanella

This week was my first opportunity to have free access to the professional-grade kitchens that are located in my dorm building at school (I know, cool, right?!) Yet, my roommate and I were too tired from the week of classes to cook something that required a lot of steps. After trying a version of a fall-inspired Panzanella in our culinary school cafeteria, we decided to attempt our own take on it with slightly different vegetables than what they used. We took a drive down to the local market here in Hyde Park and came across beautiful baby beets, a gorgeous and tiny acorn squash, and a vibrant head of Tuscan kale. Needless to say, this helped bridge the gap for me being away from Norman’s but only just a little bit. This salad was such a winner because it hit all of the flavor notes we were looking for. There is a warm sweetness from the squash and beets, and the apple cider in the dressing really ties that all together. The croutons are nicely crunchy and chewy at the same time to add texture so that every bite is dynamic. The cherry on top is the fresh and bright goat cheese to contrast the earthy kale and slightly spicy garlic in the dressing. Try this for yourself for a quick and easy Fall dinner!

Ingredients:

-about 2 cups of stale bread (chopped into cubes, I used baguette)

-1 small acorn squash, or delicata squash (unpeeled, seeds removed, sliced into wedges or rings if delicata)

-1/2 yellow onion (sliced)

-1 small red beet (cut into quarters and then sliced)

-1 bunch of kale (rib removed, chopped into small pieces)

-1 tbsp fresh thyme

-1 tbsp fresh sage (chopped)

-olive oil

-salt & pepper

-Crumbled chevre (for garnish, optional)

dressing:

-1/4 cup apple cider

-1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

-2 tbsp honey

-2 cloves of garlic (minced or crushed through a garlic press)

-salt & pepper to taste

-1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In one baking sheet, drizzle cubed bread with a light stream of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, thyme, and sage. Toss to coat all pieces of bread. Bake for 10 minutes or until bread has turned crunchy.
  2. To prep the squash, poke holes in it with a sharp pairing knife. Microwave it for about 2 minutes, and then slice the stem off and slice along the ridges to get wedges. Microwaving the squash first will make it easier to slice and will also help to cook through it more quickly and achieve a nice browned color.
  3. In another baking sheet, drizzle a layer of olive oil and spread beets on one side, onions, and sliced squash on the other side (keep the beets on their own side to avoid turning things pink). Add a touch more olive oil to the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Place these in to bake for 15-20 minutes or until they have become tender and the squash and onions have achieved a golden browned color. Make sure to turn the squash over halfway through.
  4. While these are baking, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust to liking.
  5. To arrange the salad, add your chopped kale to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Massage the olive oil into the kale for about 1-2 minutes to make it more tender and then season lightly with salt and pepper. Then, lay your kale on a large plate and add your roasted veggies and cubed bread, spreading evenly across the salad. Pour dressing over all of this and add your goat cheese crumbles. Enjoy immediately! This serves 2-3 people and can easily be adjusted to serve more.

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