In addition to the traditional large family gathering, Thanksgiving is all about, that’s right, the food. What holiday could be better, especially when you’re a college student subsisting mainly on dining hall fare? I love the foods associated with Thanksgiving dinner – green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and relish, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes galore (white and sweet), and of course, turkey and stuffing. During this season, I’ve found myself craving the traditional dishes that can be found on the Thanksgiving dinner table while back at school and, alas, the mercy of the dining hall menu. Or am I? Many ingredients that are commonly found in campus dining halls can be used to whip up a creative version of a holiday favorite. As I will be spending this Thanksgiving in Italy, I decided to combine two cultural traditions, stuffing and panzanella, to bring a bit of home to my home here in Italy. So fear not; Thanksgiving can be celebrated whenever and wherever, as this recipe can be easily made in any dining hall.
Sarah McAnaw is a junior at American University where she’s working towards getting a degree in International Studies and cooking for friends. She is studying in Florence, Italy this fall where she is immersing herself in art, culture and, of course, authentic Italian cooking.
Stuffing Inspired Panzanella
Adapted from Sweet Autumn Stuffing
Serves one generous portion
Note: I used a country style bread loaf, but any type of bread that is readily on hand in your dining hall will do. I also used roasted pumpkin in my recipe, but butternut squash would be just as delicious and is more often available in dining halls. Cinnamon and nutmeg are usually found by the tea and coffee in my dining hall, so if you’re unsure if your dining hall is stocked with a specific ingredient, try looking in areas that you wouldn’t normally check – you may be surprised! I also really love cinnamon and nutmeg, so if you’re not as into spice add a little less to your dish.
1 cup bread, toasted and cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup roasted butternut squash or pumpkin, cut into ½ inch cubes (if not already cut)
½ an apple, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
½ a pear, chopped into ¼ inch cubes
A handful of dried cranberries
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Place the cubed bread in a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss until well combined. Buon appetito!