Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fall Panzanella Salad

I'm back with a nice light fall salad to counteract the decadent desserts I've been posting recently! As I've mentioned before, I could subsist on panzanella salad forever, but sadly tomatoes are not even close to being in season right now. So I was beyond excited to find this recipe for a fall panzanella salad! It combines all the most delicious fall and winter vegetables - butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts with toasted bread and pomegranate seeds for crunch. Now, I know brussels sprouts are not the most exciting vegetable out there, but I think they just have a bad reputation. By slicing them thinly and sauteing them so they get crispy (not mushy!), they add delicious texture and flavor. Served over a little bed of lettuce, this salad is hearty enough for a full meal and is definitely a new standby in the Elmwood Eats home...until summer!

Fall Panzanella Salad (adapted from How Sweet Eats)
Serves 4
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
About 2 cups brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon
5 slices ciabatta bread (or whatever bread you like), cut into chunks
Seeds from one pomegranate (I spent what seemed like forever seeding the pomegranate but I know Trader Joe's has packages of just the seeds available...brilliant!)
3-4 cups mixed greens

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
Pinch salt, pepper, and coriander

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large baking pan, toss the cubes of squash and sweet potato with salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and two tablespoons olive oil. Bake the vegetables for about 25 minutes, turning them halfway through so they get evenly cooked.

Meanwhile, saute the brussels sprouts in one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, just until they start to brown and get crisp around the edges. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside.

Once the squash and sweet potatoes are finished roasting, transfer them to a bowl to cool. In the same roasting pan, toss the bread cubes with one tablespoon of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Bake those in the oven for just 5-7 minutes, until they barely start to brown. Mmm...toasty bread!

Finally, make the dressing - just combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine!

To assemble the salads, first toss the greens with the dressing, and divide onto four plates. Top with the bread, squash, sweet potato, brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds. 

We got our Christmas tree last weekend and Poppy is SO smells good, it's shiny and sparkly, and it has her own personal water bowl!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Wow, long time no blog! I feel like it's a total cliche to talk about how busy things are due to the holiday season blah blah blah, but it's true. Last weekend included a whirlwind trip to San Luis Obispo for a wedding catering tasting - luckily it was worth the drive because the food was amazing and we booked the caterer!

Ok, I normally try not to post two dessert recipes in a row but I couldn't not share this one with you. It's just a slight twist on the classic pecan pie - the crust is super flaky and the filling almost tastes like a rich chocolate brownie. I actually don't love normal pecan pie because it can be so intensely sweet sometimes, but with this recipe the semisweet chocolate helps cut some of the candy-like taste. Plus...isn't everything better with chocolate?!

Chocolate Pecan Pie (recipe from

Crust (my go-to crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen):
*This will make two crusts, so just freeze one and use it later!
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed, very cold

  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, lightly toasted

For the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add in the cubes of butter and use a pastry blender or your fingers to distribute it through the flour mixture until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. It's important not to over mix here - clumps of butter are great because they help create a more tender, flaky crust. Drizzle 1/2 cup of ice cold water over the flour/butter mixture and use your hands to bring the dough together. Add a little more water if it's feeling too dry and not coming together. Eventually you'll want to form the dough into a ball - it shouldn't be crumbling apart, but it also shouldn't be sticky and wet. Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for at least two hours (or up to a week) before using.

Now for the filling! First, melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan over medium-low heat, just until melted. Set the chocolate aside to cool a little and move on to the pecans! I toasted my pecans in a pan over low heat, stirring them around constantly for just 3 or 4 minutes so they don't burn.

Then chop them up! Or just buy pre-chopped ones, who will know the difference?

Next, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Then stir in the corn syrup and the chocolate mixture.

Roll out your pie crust and get it all situated in the pie pan, then sprinkle the pecans evenly across the crust. Pour the filling on top - the pecans will float up a little and get distributed throughout the pie.

I put some whole pecans on top just to be fancy! Bake it at 325 for about 50-55 minutes, until the filling puffs up a little and the crust is golden.

Poppy has been...ahem...bulking up for the winter. She's eating a little more and her fur is completely out of control, as you can see.