Squash, Mushroom and Amaretti Panzanella

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Photo by Nassima Rothacker

Albeit peculiar, this isn’t a combination I have devised. It is a very popular filling for ravioli and tortelli in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. It’s an assortment of ingredients that I absolutely love, and used in my last book, Comfort, with sweet potato gnocchi. This version, an evolution of that, is slightly lighter, and is the perfect way to use up stale bread. On that note, the rye bread here does not refer to that thinly sliced pumpernickel, which never seems to go stale. This requires an actual loaf made with either rye or spelt, the nuttiness of which only serves to amplify the flavour; though if all you have is stale white, just use that.

Serves 4


  • 100g (3-1/2oz) kale, roughly chopped
  • 60g (2-1/4oz) pumpkin seeds
  • 200g (7oz) stale rye bread, cut into 2cm (3/4in) cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g (18oz) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm (1/2in) dice
  • 250g (9oz) chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 sage leaves, roughly chopped 
  • 100g (3-1/2oz) Dolcelatte 
  • 2 amaretti biscuits, crushed 

For the dressing

  • 4 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 


  1. Put the kale into a large mixing or salad bowl.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Once hot, add the pumpkin seeds and fry, tossing the pan occasionally and allowing the seeds to pop, for a couple of minutes – usually they’re mostly toasted when the popping starts to slow down. Add the seeds to the bowl with the kale. Throw the bread cubes into the pan and fry, tossing frequently, until crisp. Add to the bowl. 
  3. Return the pan to a high heat and when hot, add the oil, squash, mushrooms and sage, and reduce the heat to medium-high. Fry, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes or so, until the squash is cooked through and the mushrooms are soft and slightly coloured. Pour the squash mixture into the salad bowl while it is still hot – the residual heat will help to wilt the kale a little, reducing its overwhelming volume.
  4. Make the dressing by mixing together the vinegar and olive oil with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, then add dollops of the Dolcelatte cheese. Finish by crumbling over the crushed amaretti biscuits.

More from A Flash in the Pan:

Excerpted with permission from A Flash in the Pan by John Whaite and published by Kyle Books.

Mother Earth Gardener
Mother Earth Gardener
Expert advice on all aspects of growing.