Roasted Autumn Panzanella Salad.

 Remember last week when I took a sip of dish soap thinking that it was my bottle of water?

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Well, I totally feel like I should do that today.

Not only for saying the “s” word on a Friday, but also because after yesterday I can’t stop thinking about brown butter. Or Ryan Gosling. Or Ryan Gosling drenched in brown butter.

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I’ve never actually had a panzanella salad. This one time at band camp about four years ago I got really, really sick… I had done an insane upper body workout at the gym which led to me not being able to lift my arms over my head for one week straight (no lie) which then turned into a sinus infection which then turned into strept throat which then led me to wake up on the couch in a cold sweat at 4AM, weeping from pain and shuffling out to the kitchen to down some Advil since SOMEHOW there were nails scraping the back of my mouth. I took the Advil but my throat was so messed up that the ADVIL GOT LODGED INSIDE MY THROAT. I could still swallow, but it was stuck there and I could feel it which led to me having a massive panic attack and screaming on the kitchen floor, flipping out assuming I was going to die and making my mom call the doctor who assured her that if I could swallow I was FINE. Then the next day I had to get blood taken and I could still feel the pill in my throat and the minute I saw the nurse I’m all “OMG I have a pill stuck in my throat” and she didn’t really believe me or think it was a big deal, and then six months later when I got blood taken again I had the same nurse and she said “aw, you’re the girl who thought she had a gel capsule lodged in her throat! I guess you’re all better now,” to which I replied “um, no. I’m the girl who DID have a pill lodged my in throat for days and it scarred me for life. Now drain me of blood please.”

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That’s all very relevant (or not) because while I was “becoming one” with the couch that week I was sick, I watched Rachael Ray make a panzanella salad. Then I went stir crazy and flipped out on my mom and was all “why didn’t YOU ever make a panzanella salad? God, why can’t we just be Italian? There is so much good food I’ve been deprived of!” Then I wailed for about 30 minutes before passing out for the next three days, which was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to my relationship because Mr. How Sweet witnessed my true colors that week.

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Imagine when I woke up and was miraculously healed!

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Needless to say… I never made that panzanella salad. I don’t even know what’s in a panzanella salad. What makes it so special? I’m sure I did this wrong. Is it just a panzanella salad because it has bread?

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Oh well… it is now.

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I ate this for lunch this week. Want to know why? I’m sure you’re dyyyying to know because my life is so interesting. Really.

I’m going on week three of playing single lady and while I secretly (or… not so secretly) freaking love it, it’s starting to make me lose my mahrbles. That’s “marbles.” Said with an “h” in it. ‘Case you didn’t get it.

A positive? There has been a nice lack of Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders plastered on my TV screen. A negative? Phone calls at 12:30AM regarding the “benefits” of Beavis and Butthead being back on MTV. I’ll never be sold on that.

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So… I ate this salad because Mr. How Sweet sent me a text message that begged “can you please, pretty pretty please make me the beer bbq chicken for lunch when I get home Friday? And can we eat it with the beer mac and cheese? That just sounds soooo good. I miss your cooking so much! And can we have the bacon-roasted brussels sprouts as a side too? You know I need sides. And… and… maybe if it’s not too much to ask, you can make me some chocolate chip cookies? Maybe even those ones with coffee… err, toffee, because I know you loved them.”

 

Oh. Sure! I’ll make this entire meal filled with beer and butter and bacon and butter and cheese. Sounds good! Because we aren’t approaching the holiday season or anything. Because it’s not like we bought Halloween candy last week (the big bars, of course) and I accidentally on purpose tore in to it… on Monday.  Maybe afterwards we can go take our blood pressure, get a stress test and check our cholesterol levels? Cool.

In his defense, he didn’t really use all those words like “pretty please.” He’s much cooler than that. And I swear he didn’t pay me to say that with a new pair of heels or anything. Definitely not.

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Roasted Autumn Panzanella Salad

serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a starter/side dish

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 apples, chopped (I left the skin on)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3-4 cups fresh arugula

4-5 thick slices multigrain bread, cut into chunks

1/3 cup pomegranate arils (or the arils from one pomegranate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and garlic powder in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, mix sweet potato and squash chunks, then drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil on top and mix to coat with your hands. Add about 3/4 of the spice mixture, and mix again to coat. Lay on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping once.

After 20 minutes, toss apple chunks with remaining spice mixture. Add apple to the baking sheet and bake for another 25 minutes, tossing once or twice.

Let squash, potatoes and apple cool, then add bread chunks to the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil if desired.

In a large bowl, combine arugula with roasted fruit, veg and bread cubes. Toss with about 1/4 cup of dressing (or more/less) then sprinkle with pom arils. Serve immediately.

 

Spiced Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup pomegranate juice

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

pinches of: salt, pepper & nutmeg

Combine mustard, honey, pom juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk. Stream in olive oil while constantly whisking until dressing emulsifies. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Now you see why I needed all those pictures. I had a lot to say. Hmmpf.