Winter Panzanella Salad with Warm Anchovy Orange Dressing

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This recent bout of spring weather has gotten me in the mood for some fresh farmers market veggies! Too bad winter has returned with a vengeance and spring vegetables are a long way off.

It got me thinking though about what I love about summer cooking:

  • Fresh, seasonal produce
  • Beautiful, bright colors that jump off the plate
  • Light meals with a lot of flavor
  • Quick and easy preparation

As I looked around my kitchen for inspiration I found a gorgeous deep orange butternut squash, dark rich green  mature spinach, black wrinkly oil-cured olives, vibrant red roasted peppers, bright cheerful oranges, and wheat speckled half eaten loaf of olive bread.

Why wait until summer? This winter panzanella salad takes advantage of the best the season has to offer; no compromises necessary!

Winter Panzanella Salad with Warm Anchovy Orange Dressing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Winter Panzanella Salad with Warm Anchovy Orange Dressing

Ingredients

    For the salad
  • 1 small butternut squash, approximately 1 pound
  • 1/2 loaf of hearty stale bread; olive bread works great
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped oil cured olives
  • 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced into 1-inch strips
  • 8 ounces spinach leaves
  • For the dressing
  • 3 anchovies
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons orange juice--approximately 1/2 an orange
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

    Prep the salad
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the butternut, remove the seeds, and dice into 1-inch pieces. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and spread out on a sheet pan. Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice until browned on the outside and tender on the inside.
  3. Cut the bread into 1-2 inch cubes. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and spread out on a sheet pan. Roast for 20 minutes, turning once until brown.
  4. Microwave the spinach for 15-20 seconds, just until it starts to wilt.
  5. Toss together the squash, bread, olives, red pepper, and spinach leaves.
  6. Make the dressing
  7. Combine anchovies, garlic and 3 Tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium low and break up anchovies. Once it's very fragrant and the anchovies have melted into the oil, remove from heat.
  8. In a small bowl whisk mustard, vinegar, orange juice, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil mixture until emulsified.
  9. Finish the salad
  10. Toss together the salad and the dressing. Let stand for 10-15 minutes, tossing occasionally. Serve.
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Stir Fry of Bok Choy, Spinach, Mushroom & Tofu

I am craving things that are green. Anything at this point. It has nothing to do with all of the store displays about St. Patty’s Day; I just need nutrients. Vitamin C, D, A, I don’t care, anything. A lime flavored popsicle would probably help trick my body into thinking it’s spring.

This warm snap doesn’t fool me; apparently after the lovely weather we’re back to “below average” temps. How is it below average if it’s….well, the average this season?

But a trip to the grocery with a critical eye to the veggies that look best right now reminds me that there is still a lot of winter produce that looks pretty good and delivers a nutrient dense punch. Oh, and is delicious.

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And seriously, if I don’t see my slow cooker again until the fall I will dance a jig. I love it and all but I want fresh, fresh, fresh!

This is as close as I could get, but it’s doing the trick.

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Stir Fry of Spinach, Bok Choy, Mushroom & Tofu

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: PT20-M

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Stir Fry of Spinach, Bok Choy, Mushroom & Tofu

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 12 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 8 ounces cremini or shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 baby bok choy, sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 2 cups cooked rice

Instructions

  1. Drain tofu, then place on a paper towel-lined plate, cover with another towel and place a plate on top. Let sit for 10 minutes to squeeze out the excess moisture.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Mix together soy sauce, water, salt and ginger in a small bowl
  4. Heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet. Add tofu and cook, turning once until lightly browned. Approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Remove tofu to paper-towel lined plate.
  6. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet and stir fry mushrooms until browned, 5 minutes. Remove to plate with tofu.
  7. Heat remaining teaspoon oil in skillet. Stir fry onion and garlic until soft, 1 minute, then add bok choy and cook another minute until tender.
  8. Add in soy sauce mixture, spinach, tofu and mushrooms and toss gently until spinach wilts. Remove from heat, add sesame oil and mix one more time.
  9. Serve over rice.
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It’s quick, it’s healthy, it’s nutritious, and it’s bound to chase those winter blahs away. For a minute. And the kids will love it. And want more.

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Passport to: India

Indian Greens completeI love making an event out of dinner. It’s often the one time of the day that the whole family is together…and my oldest is only 3. I can only imagine how hectic it’s going to get later. But over dinner we can sit and talk and ask each other about our favorite part of our day. Playing with Legos for Nicholas. Walking through the door after work for Dan. Then the dog barks, Katie starts crying, and Nicholas spills his drink. Despite the chaos, the time we spend together at dinner is my favorite part of the day.

I like the idea of passport meals–you know, make an entire theme night out of something a little different than the norm, for us: Indian food. Play Indian music, find India on a map, everyone come to the table with one fun fact about Indian culture…

Ok, seriously, who am I kidding. Like we have time for that. The reality is, we walk past an Indian restaurant  on the way home from Nicholas’ school and it smells so darn good that I was inspired to try to make a couple of our favorite dishes at home. And over dinner we talked about how great it would have been to have done all of that stuff.

I still love the idea of a passport meal–go ahead, try something new. You don’t need to be an expert, just follow a recipe. And if you can do all that other stuff, you are truly inspiring. I’m going to keep it on the list as one of the great ideas that we’ll get to one of these days. Meanwhile, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that we all get to sit at the table and talk for a few minutes every day.

Menu: 

Chicken Tikka Masala (Food & Wine mag recipe)
Indian Spiced Greens–my take on Sag
Steamed Basmati Rice
Naan
Kingfisher Beer