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Saturday, November 21st.
This was the meant to be the ultimate primer dinner for Thanksgiving. My dad even made chicken, stuffing and graving the same night.
- Thanksgiving Panzanella Salad with Delicata Squash + Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits -
The First Mess
This salad has thanksgiving in its title, and Laura Wright writes, "I usually make this dish in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, just to get us properly excited for the big meal."
I felt I had to give it a shot, and Saturday was the night.
I wanted it to be ready, so that everyone could eat it by 7:30pm. I started with making the dressing at 6. And guess what? The salad was actually ready at 7:30!
This was my first time using delicata squash, though I have used squash before. I can see why Laura Wright likes this type of squash the best—it doesn't require any peeling!
After thinly slicing the squash, I cut the shallots. After my scarring experience peeling shallots (see previous post), I got already peeled shallots this time. Actually, I didn't have a choice. The only shallots available were pre-peeled. It was pretty awesome.
She said to cut them into wedges, but I had no idea what she meant by that. Maybe the wanted me to slice them the long side? I just went with that.
The shallots and squash were then tossed on a baking sheet with olive oil, minced rosemary and thyme. In the process of getting the leaves off the thyme stems, I stumbled across an amazingly easier way to do it; other than picking off each one, one at a time. If you slide your fingers up the thyme stem, the leaves come off like magic! Aha! I knew there had to be a more efficient way than the painful way I picked them off for the beet salad (see previous post).
Mincing the thyme and rosemary was quite frustrating. The rosemary was a real tough cookie. I had to keep hacking at it with the knife. I hate mincing. It involves doing a repeated motion again... and again... and again. Until... finally... the pieces... look modestly... small enough. Enough is the key word here. And you have to keep brushing off the knife, because the pieces cling to it, and then it won't cut at all.
Whew! Mixing everything together on the baking sheet was a relief. It was done. And on to roast.
Another reason why I was frustrated the mincing was taking so long, was because this had to cook for 45 minutes, and then cool. Remember, I said I wanted the salad to be ready at 7:30?
Well, I was behind putting it in the oven. If it had needed 45 minutes to cook than the salad wouldn't have been ready in time. What saved me was that it only needed 35 minutes. It actually probably only needed 30 minutes. It was really soft and golden brown, ten minutes before the timer was set to go off. I took it out, because otherwise I was afraid it was going to burn.
While the squash was roasting, I'd made breadcrumbs. Very simple. Just the roasting of cubed pieces of whole-grain sourdough bread. They only needed 12 minutes until they were golden brown.
So then all that was left was slicing the kale and celery stalks. Very easy, because I had already done this before. I poured the whole container of pomegranate seeds into the salad bowl, definitely more than 1/3 cup, but why not? I love pomegranate seeds in salads.
The squash was still a tad warm when I combined everything, but the clock was ticking. Once everything was combined with the dressing, the salad had to sit for 5-10 minutes. So I had to get a move on. My dad had finished with the chicken already, and was impatient to eat.
This was a truly wonderful, absolutely delectable salad! There were so many flavors bursting on my tongue after each bite. The thyme, rosemary, pomegranate, dressing, all together. Yum! The squash was so warm, abundant, and comforting in each bite. The bread crumbs were nice and crispy. And everything was rounded out with a touch of sweetness from the little bit of maple syrup in the dressing. Oh, and the roasted shallots brought an additional depth of flavor to the dish. It was a really well rounded out salad. The amount of kale was in perfect proportion with everything else. I'd meant to share how my perception and liking of kale salad has changed, but I'll save that for another day. Another post. It's only been recently that I've found kale salad to be really good. This one definitely was.
And then for dessert, I had the pumpkin mousse parfaits. Which were a spectacular failure. It was a good thing the salad was such a success.
Why did they fail utterly and completely?
I have my beliefs that it was due to the canned coconut milk sitting in the fridge not just overnight... but for a WEEK! Yes, that was definitely it.
Why did this happen?
I was planning on making these parfaits a week ago Friday. And I had refrigerated two cans of coconut milk for that. One for the mousse, one for the whipped coconut cream. So both failed.
The texture of the mousse was grainy, not a smooth mousse-like texture that it was supposed to be. The coconut cream was stiff and solid, not light and fluffy. It was gross. I threw a fit after the mousse wasn't blending probably. The kitchen was a complete and utter mess by then. Dirty pots, pans and baking sheets stacked on the stove-top. Dirty food processor, dirty bowls. Dirty plates and cups overflowing out of the sink and onto the counter. Dirty countertops, with drops of things spilled here and there and everywhere. I was overly tired, and worn out from stress that I had felt constantly all week. My family had been getting on my nerves. Every single thing they did annoyed me. I was finding and noticing everyone's worst characteristics.
I needed to take a break, go outside, and just breath. I sat between my parents cars in the driveway, looked up at the night sky, and sobbed. I felt terrible, and everything in my life seemed terrible. It was all a big mess. Only the stars shined in their beauty.
I heaved my sorry ass back inside to serve out the disastrous parfaits.