Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Butternut squash and Brussels sprout panzanella + Roasted Beets, Goat cheese, and Pistachios

The next morning after having chai we walked to the Ferry Building Farmer's Market. This place is like foodie heaven. It's amazing how comforting cooking is and how food in general provides a great way to explore a new city through local ingredients and influences. When I was deciding between job offers, my dad teased me that one of my criteria must be the foodie-ness of the city!

We ate my absolutely favorite chilaquiles on a bench over looking the Bay Bridge. It is quite possible that these chilaquiles may have influenced my decision to move to SF when I visited in June.

After we ate, we browsed the stands at the farmers market and decided on the menu for dinner: butternut squash, brussels sprouts panzanella, roasted beets with fresh chevre from Cowgirl Creamery and pistachios, and pomegranate and persimmon arugula salad- seriously this salad has become such a popular request! Not only are the colors gorgeous but it is one of those salads that I just can't stop eating. It is a good thing that people keep asking me to make it for them!

Our morning was spent wandering the stalls of the farmer's market, an absolutely perfect way to spend a Saturday morning in SF. Have you ever seen Buddha's hand citron? It sort of looks like a cross between a lemon and a squid.

We cooked up a feast for dinner and invited over another friend from college who also recently moved to SF. We reminisced about college, while sharing cooking tips for busy work schedules. It was interesting to hear two incredibly smart, successful and driven women talk about their experiences balancing ridiculously impressive careers, Indian cultural values, and married life as they start to think about building a family. I took a different path than both of them by going to graduate school essentially right after college so I am only now starting my career. I admire and respect both of them and can only hope to be able to be half as amazing as them at figuring it all out.

It's amazing what a weekend with a good friend can do for you. Thank you MS, I mean MR, for a lovely visit, miss you already. 

Butternut squash and Brussels sprout panzanella (Michael Chiarello)
For the salad:
1 small red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Sea salt
4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash (1/2-inch dice)
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, then quartered
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

For the croutons:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and thyme, and immediately add the bread cubes. Toss to coat well. Add most of the grated cheese and stir. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with the remainingcheese and salt and pepper and gently toss again while still warm to melt the cheese. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Soak the sliced onion in the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Toss the squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized, about 15 to minutes. Let cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook until tender but retain a touch of crispness, about 1 1/2 minutes, and drain.

Into the reserved red onions and vinegar, whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with pepper.

In a large bowl combine the roasted squash, croutons, and Brussels sprouts. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Add the parsley leaves and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Chef note: "Soaking the onion briefly in sherry vinegar--sometimes called blooming the onion--mellows the raw onion taste."

Roasted beets, goat cheese, pistachios (adapted from Gourmet)
3 beets, greens trimmed
1 large shallot, minced
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
4 oz fresh goat cheese
2 tbsp pistachios, raw unshelled and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 425. Wash beets thoroughly and dry. Separately wrap each beet tightly in double layers of aluminum foil. Roast in middle of oven directly on the rack for 1 to 1.5 hrs, until tender. Remove from oven and unwrap beets. Meanwhile, combine shallot, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl and slowly whisk in olive oil. Once beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins. You may want to use gloves to avoid staining your hands. Cut beets into 1/4 inch dice. Toss with vinaigrette. Add goat cheese and pistachios. Adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer to serving bowl and serve immediately.


  1. What a lovely way to spend the weekend. I adore the Ferry Market, and I can't wait until I can go back. It has been one of my favorite traveling experiences. This vegetable-filled dish sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing with me. I hope you have a safe and joyous New Years celebration tonight!

  2. These dishes sound absolutely amazing! I've tried so many of your recipes and what I love most is that you use simple ingredients, retain the fresh flavors of seasonal vegetables, and create amazingly TASTY dishes- not easy for a vegetarian!

    Anyway, just wanted to say THANKS for sharing your culinary explorations. I'm looking forward to another year of exciting recipes :)


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