Meticulous actions soothe and comfort me. Maybe that’s why I like baking and cooking so much. It’s akin to free therapy. I get lost in the details and actions like peeling and slicing veggies, measuring and sifting flour, and stirring a pot for hours. My hands aren’t idle. They’re serving a greater purpose. The reward is the delicious and homemade food that I’ve created. All from scratch and made with love. It’s nourishing for both body and soul.
I take more time to eat and savor my food when I’ve gone to the trouble of making it with my own two hands. I want to enjoy every part of it, taste every component, and notice every texture. A meal is infinitely more enjoyable when I’ve made it in my own kitchen. There’s something to be said about enjoying the fruits of your labor. Perhaps that is why Thanksgiving is so enjoyable. It’s a completely homemade meal made by the hands of those you cherish and love.
After several days in a row of working away from home, I was feeling like spending some time in the kitchen. The result is this fall-inspired panzanella (i.e. bread salad) perfect for dropping temperatures and gracing your Thanksgiving table. It has more steps than a typical salad but it is so much worth the effort! Since I am always dissatisfied with store-bought gluten free/vegan bread, I decided to make my own the day before. If you feel like going this route, perhaps try this sage & toasted pecan boule I posted a couple of weeks ago. Or, you could keep it simple on yourself and use some good quality store-bought bread of your choosing. As for the butternut squash, I’ve seen peeled and diced butternut in the freezer section of some grocery stores so that will save you some prep time as well.
Fall Panzanella with Turmeric Dijon Dressing
notes: to make the recipe a little easier to follow, I’ve broken up the ingredients and instructions for the different components. I would suggest adding the dressing to the salad right before you intend to serve/eat as it will make the bread soggy after it sits for a while.
for the bread cubes
2 cups torn or cubed bread (I used a buckwheat bread)
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the bread on a large sheet pan then drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and the thyme, then toss to coat the bread evenly. Bake the bread at 300 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until it becomes dried out. It should be similar in texture to a crouton. Remove from the oven to cool before using it in the salad.
for the butternut squash
2 cups cubed butternut squash (about 1 medium butternut squash)
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the butternut squash on a large sheet pan then drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and the cinnamon. Toss to coat evenly then roast the squash at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. Remove the squash and set it aside until you are ready to assemble your salad.
for the turmeric dijon dressing
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp grade B maple syrup
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
sea salt to taste
Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Set aside until you are ready to assemble your salad. If the dressing seems too thick, you can thin it as needed with water.
assembling the salad
the prepared bread cubes
the prepared butternut squash
1/2 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
1 green apple, thinly sliced
1 large handful of dried cranberries
1 small bunch of kale, de-ribbed & torn into bite-sized pieces
turmeric dijon dressing
Put everything except for the dressing into a large bowl. Drizzle with about 2/3 of the dressing, then toss well to combine. Taste the salad and add the remaining dressing if necessary. Makes 6 to 8 small servings of salad.