Among the few Food Network chefs that don’t terrify me, Michael Chiarello is high on that list; his cooking, style and not overly-aggressive healthfulness fits cleanly with the type of foods I like to make and we like to eat. But, I have yet to make a recipe of his and it is, quite frankly, because he can be such a pain in the ass. The gray salt, the extra-virgin use for cooking, the $218 Balsamic, the fifteen-step recipes and his endless gadgets put me off. Would it still taste good from the kitchen of Simple Folk? Due to some haphazard sense of principle, I never bother finding out.
But he’s finally broken into the Smitten Kitchen with a winter vegetable panzanella I couldn’t resist, you know, the one he whipped up for his “holiday gift wrapping lunch,” my god. This week I had found myself missing that summery panzanella salad I’d made for a dinner party last month, but I wanted something more seasonal. I’ve had this roasted vegetable version bookmarked for a while, but… something about it seems lackluster. When Chiarello, in his just-enough-rumpled shirt said butternut squash and brussel sprouts, I had very much a “bingo!” moment.