November 20, 2012

Fall Panzanella

I'll be honest with you, I was in the grocery store with a big loaf of crusty bread in my hand thinking "What's the big deal...  I'll just buy it instead of making it", but I JUST. COULDN'T. DO. IT.  
So, I put that gorgeous loaf of bread back amongst it's friends and headed home to start the focaccia. 

I pulled out the stand mixer, made my dough, let it rise...  Placed it ever so lovingly on my sheet pan to puff up again before sliding it in the oven...  And yet, something was amiss.  It just didn't look quite right, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  Once it was time for the bread to come out of the sauna, I realized I had a bit of a problem.

Not really sure how I screwed it up, but it was more of a focaccia pancake.  It didn't rise properly and looked rather pathetic.  So I salvaged what I could, not wanting to waste everything and started over.  
Truth be told, the Ohio State game was on and I was a tad distracted...  There, I've said it.  I wasn't paying attention to my work,  I was watching football. 
That's what happened.

You know as I was remaking the focaccia, I was thinking "Why didn't I just buy the bread?!"...
In the end, I'm glad I didn't.  Sometimes taking the long road has it troubles but at the end of the day the effort is usually worth it.

So when all is said and done and you are staring at a fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers, give new life to the roasted veggies hanging around.  It's a great way to use up the ones that always get passed over for everyone's favorite, the mashed potatoes.

Fall Panzanella
1 red onion, diced
1 gala apple, cored and diced
1 granny smith apple, cored and diced
3 cups diced butternut squash, roasted
2 cups red or rainbow swiss chard, finely sliced
5 - 6 cups focaccia or day old crusty bread, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, roasted
a few tablespoons olive oil for tossing with veggies/bread

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp fresh thyme, leaves only

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  If using store bought crusty bread, toss in a little olive oil before toasting bread.  Bake until golden brown and crunchy, about 12 - 15 minutes.

Toss apples and onion in a few tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for approximately 20 minutes until soft and caramelized.

While bread, onions and apples are in the oven, make vinaigrette in a large bowl and set aside. 
When focaccia is toasted, let it cool slightly then toss in vinaigrette.  Add roasted vegetables, cranberries, apples and swiss chard.  Toss to combine and coat in vinaigrette.
Serve immediately.