Wednesday, November 26, 2014
There are a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods I can get excited about. Turkey is not one of them (unless it is smoked...then I will fight you for it). Roasted turkey is boring and mainly a vehicle for cranberry chutney. So what do you do with the leftovers?
Wonder no more: You make panzanella. You feel really fancy for whipping up a dinner with such a glamorous name. And you enjoy the deliciousness (it's even good reheated). This is one of those meals I pretty much only make in November/December, but we've eagerly anticipated it every year since I first cut the recipe out of Taste of Home in 2009. It is worth the wait!
Disclaimer: I just learned that technically, "panzanella" means "Italian bread and tomato salad." Whatever. Somehow I got the idea that it was a generic name for a bread salad more than a descriptor of a specific *type* of bread salad. I'm still calling this Turkey-Cranberry Panzanella, because stubborn. Also because it's way more fun to say and write than "Harvest Turkey Bread Salad," which is what the original was called. Bread salad? Who thinks that sounds appealing? Plus, I am in good company calling a non-tomato bread salad "panzanella."
Anyway. Call this what you like, it is mouthwatering (more so than my once-again-lackluster-food-photography implies...the Taste of Home photo may entice you a little more!).
adapted from Taste of Home
5 cups cubed bread (I use day-old five-minute artisan bread)
1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce or chutney, divided
6 T oil, divided
6 T balsamic vinegar, divided
2 tsp salt, divided
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet onion, cut into large chunks
1 T fresh thyme
4-5 cups cooked turkey, cut into chunks
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
Bake bread cubes on an ungreased baking sheet at 250 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set bread aside and increase oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup cranberry sauce, 2 T oil, 2 T vinegar and 1 tsp salt. Toss with sweet potato and onion. Spread vegetables in a foil-lined or well-greased baking pan (a 15x10 jelly roll pan works well) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender, stirring halfway through.
In a small bowl, mix thyme with remaining oil, vinegar, salt and cranberry sauce.
Combine bread, roasted vegetables, turkey, cranberries and pecans in a large bowl and drizzle with dressing. Yield: 6-8 servings.
Note: You won't want to use all the dressing--it's pretty strong. If you have kids, you'll probably have better luck serving this deconstructed, with everyone assembling their own salads at the table. My boys will eat the individual elements of this, but they don't care for the balsamic dressing. They'd rather dip their turkey and bread in straight cranberry sauce and avoid the pecans, too.