Halloween may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to start hanging Christmas decorations just yet.
The Pan de Muerto is a traditional Day of the Dead recipe, ritually made every year in the weeks leading up to All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the first and second of November, respectively. It also happens to make a tasty salad when combined with fresh pumpkin, radicchio, and queso fresco.
“Chopping up the Pan de Muerto and using it in a Panzanella is an easy way to make the most of your Day of the Dead leftovers,” says David Suarez, executive chef at Rosa Mexicano Union Square. “Mixing the bread with quintessential fall flavors like hearty shiitake mushrooms, sweet pumpkin, and a pumpkin seed dressing makes this a salad you can serve in the days following Day of the Dead and anytime this holiday season.”
Panzanella de Calabaza con Hongos
For the croutons:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
6 cups day-old Pan de Muerto (recipe to follow), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
salt, to taste
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until it foams. Immediately add the bread cubes and toss well to coat. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. In an oven preheated to 400 degrees F, bake the croutons until they are crisp and lightly brown, about 15 minutes, stirring once while baking. Set aside and cool.
For the salad:
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 sugar pumpkin (about 4 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
6 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, sliced
6 oz. oyster mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
4 cups watercress leaves, packed
3 cups radicchio, sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons
2 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco
salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the sliced onions and sherry vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and set aside. In a large roasting pan, toss the pumpkin and mushrooms with the 1/4 cup of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in the pan and, in an oven preheated to 450 degrees F, bake until the pumpkin is tender and the mushrooms are browned, about 25 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, place the pepitas in a dry skillet set over medium-high heat. Continuously tossing, toast them until they are lightly brown and fragrant. Set aside.
Whisk the 1/2 cup of the remaining olive oil into the bowl with the vinegar and onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the roasted pumpkin, mushrooms, and croutons. Add the onion vinaigrette, watercress, radicchio, and tomatoes and toss thoroughly to coat, adjusting the seasoning if necessary. Garnish with toasted pepitas and queso fresco, and enjoy.
Click through to make the Pan de Muerto… Pan de Muerto
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tbsp dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp anise seeds
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tbsp sesame seeds
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and anise seeds, mixing together until well incorporated. Make a well in the center and add eggs, butter, lard, one cup of water, and mix to make a sticky dough. Knead the dough for 15 minutes or until it has softened. The dough should not be sticky anymore.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and lightly oil the top of the dough so as not to dry out. Cover it with a damp cloth and put it in a warm, but not hot, place to rise. Let the dough rise until double in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Punch down the dough, kneading it a few times more, and divide it into two equal balls.
Form round loaves and place each loaf on a sheet of parchment paper to allow the bread space to increase in size. Wet the sesame seeds and drain. Place the seeds in a bowl and, using your fingers, spread the seeds onto bread lightly. Allow the dough to rise for an additional 15 minutes.
Cut a slit in the bread and let it rise again for another 15 minutes. In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F, bake the bread for about 45 minutes, or until nicely browned on top. When done, the bread should have a hollow sound when tapped with your finger. Allow it to cool completely before cutting into it, as it’s a very soft bread that may crumble if not cooled.