Category Archives: Side Dishes

Panzanella with Italian Sausage

I’m a huge fan of throwing a bunch of stuff in a bowl and calling it something.  Panzanella has been floating around the back of my mind for some time now.  I was first inspired by several panzanella recipes on foodgawker, and then I did some research on Wikipedia.  Turns out that panzanella is an Italian way of using up leftovers and cleaning out your produce drawer.  What follows below is really more of a method than a recipe.  Adjust the amounts of things to your tastes, swap out veggies for what you have on hand, and add whatever protein strikes your fancy.  Or, skip the protein and make this into a flavortastic light side dish.  🙂

If your bread is not very old, or if you like crunchy bread, toast your cubes a bit in the oven before assembling the dish.  This panzanella is extremely versatile.  Next time I make it I think I will add some chopped fresh basil, and perhaps some shaved parmesan or some torn up fresh mozzarella.

This dish came together unbelievably fast, and turned out delicious and satisfying.  As an individual who pretty much hates vegetables, it’s a compliment to this recipe that I cleaned my plate of all its squash, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.  The bread soaks up all the flavors but does not get soggy because it’s day-old (or toasted, whichever you prefer).  My bread was actually several days old, so stale and crunchy that I was afraid it would ruin the dish (it didn’t).  For that reason, I didn’t toast it.  However, next time I make this–because, oh yes, there will be a next time–I will use slightly less stale bread and toast it for a minute or two while the veggies are broiling, just to try a different texture.

Panzanella with Italian Sausage
Inspired by Wikipedia, The Bitten Word, Baked Bree, and Macheesmo

Ingredients:
1 yellow summer squash, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1 small head broccoli, chopped
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into eighths
12 ounces Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 a day-old baguette or other crusty bread, chopped into 1-inch chunks
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar (or your favorite)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Set oven to high broil setting.  Place all vegetables in a sturdy roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under broiler until vegetables are tender and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.  (Alternatively, you could grill your veggies.)

Meanwhile, place the Italian sausage in a skillet, and cook over medium-high heat until well browned, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar to taste.  Allow the bread to soak up these liquids a bit.  Add crumbled sausage and its juices to bread cubes and stir to evenly distribute.  Add broiled vegetables and their juices to bowl, and stir well to combine flavors.  Set aside a few minutes to allow bread to soak up juices.  Enjoy!

Quinoa Toss with Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, and Pecans

It’s Monday, and that means that Josh is at work on his first overnight shift of the week.  On Mondays I am left cooking for one, and usually I fall back on pasta, because it’s easy, quick, and I love it.  Tonight, though, there is (apparently) no pasta in the house as I did not have a chance to get groceries this weekend.  However, I found a forgotten stash of quinoa in the corner of my pantry.  I’ve never had quinoa before but it is all over Foodgawker.  I remember buying a small bag in the bulk section of my favorite grocery with plans to experiment with it.  Well, why not tonight? 

My quinoa dish was mostly inspired by the quinoa salad over at Macheesmo.  I starred this recipe in my RSS feed some time ago and bought a bunch of stuff to make it, but never got around to it.  Thankfully, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, and pecans don’t go bad very quickly.  I basically made the quinoa with the sweet potato, the cranberries, and the nuts, but left out the dressing in Macheesmo’s original recipe.  I added some salt and pepper and scooped it onto a plate.  I’m not gonna lie, we’re not talking fancy, beautiful food here.  This is some pretty rustic looking eats, but it’s tasty and hearty.  The quinoa has a nice nutty flavor that goes well with the sweet potato.  I really liked the way the cranberries and the pecans played off each other, too.  The flavor blend was great, and the dish is very satisfying.  Also, since there’s nothing terribly savory in it, I plan to reheat the leftovers with milk, some chopped apple, and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast tomorrow. 

This is more a method than a recipe.  Really it’s just a matter of mixing stuff into cooked quinoa.  Feel free to swap out your own veggies, fruits, and nuts or seeds.  You can make this as sweet or as savory as you like.

Quinoa Toss with Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, and Pecans
Inspired by the quinoa salad at Macheesmo
Makes a decent amount

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups cold water
1 small sweet potato
Large handful sweetened dried cranberries
Handful chopped pecans (toasted, if desired)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place quinoa and cold water in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat; decrease heat to low and simmer, covered, until quinoa is translucent and tender, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, scrub sweet potato and pierce all over with a fork.  Place on a microwaveable plate and microwave until tender but not mushy, about 3-4 minutes.  Let sweet potato cool slightly, then peel off skin.  Slice potato lengthwise into slabs, then chop into cubes.

When quinoa is cooked, stir in sweet potato cubes, cranberries, and pecans.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.