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This wonderful Fall Panzanella Salad features chunks of toasted bread (the name Panzanella comes from the Italian “pane” for bread) and seasonal ingredients like kale, roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, apples, goat cheese, and more, all dressed in a delicious maple mustard vinaigrette. It’s wonderful as new side dish addition to the Thanksgiving table, or you can eat it as a light dinner or lunch during the Fall!
Fall Panzanella Salad
One of our favorite things is to invite friends over for dinner. We try to do it on a regular basis because socializing is so much fun. And most of them usually ask us if they can bring something to contribute, which is always fine by me because I love to see what other people make to take to others.
Some of our family favorite recipes now came to us through these shared dinners and swapping of recipes. Like this gorgeous seasonal salad that our friends brought over last year, which we immediately fell in love with.
I think this fall panzanella salad is great for parties, holiday gatherings or maybe even by itself for a really simple and light weeknight dinner. The toasted bread is SUPPOSED to soak up the amazing maple mustard dressing so no need to worry about things getting soggy on the drive to Friendsgiving dinner.
And if you wanted to make it heartier, you could bulk it up with some crispy chopped bacon or even sliced chicken breasts to make it more of a true dinner salad.
What is Panzanella Salad?
If you have never heard of the classic summer salad from Italy known simply as “Panzanella”, you are missing out. Traditional panzanella salad is an easy bread salad (yep, bread salad is a thing and it’s amazing), made with bread, tomatoes, onions, basil, and dressed simply with olive oil and vinegar. But since it’s really best with summer-ripe garden tomatoes and those will soon be a distant memory, it’s time to introduce a fall version instead!
What is in Fall Panzanella Salad?
This is one loaded salad (my favorite kind)! All of the fall flavors are represented here.
- toasted chunks of crusty artisan bread
- roasted butternut squash
- roasted brussels sprouts
- roasted red onion to bring out it’s natural sweetness
- kale that has been massaged until it’s tender
- chopped pecans
- dried cranberries
- goat cheese
- maple & cinnamon (in the dressing)
You could easily make your own loaf of roasted garlic & rosemary no knead artisan bread or just pick up a loaf of your favorite crusty Italian bread from the store like the rosemary olive oil bread I used here from the bakery at my local grocery store. You could even use day-old stale bread (which is really what this salad was made with in the past anyway), although drying fresh bread is usually easier for me and I honestly think it has better flavor and texture this way anyway.
How to Make Fall Panzanella Salad
This isn’t quite as easy as throwing together most salads, but that’s only because there is some roasting involved to soften the vegetables and draw out some of their natural sweetness and flavors. Other than that, the recipe is pretty straightforward with a simple dressing that you can shake up in a jar.
- Cut up a loaf of crusty bread into large chunks and toast it in the oven for 10 minutes, just until it starts to turn golden brown around the edges. We aren’t going for croutons here, just drying out the bread enough that it will soak up the dressing later on without getting soggy.
- Chop all the veggies (or go the smarter route and at least by precut butternut squash which you can find in the produce section at most grocery stores) and drizzle them with a little olive oil. Season the squash, brussels sprouts, and red onions with salt and pepper (so important to bring out their flavors and avoid a bland salad!) and roast in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the squash is tender and the brussels sprouts are caramelized on the bottoms where they touched the pan. Let them cool for a bit before assembling the salad.
- Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shaking vigorously, or whisking them together in a bowl.
- When ready to assemble the salad, chop the kale into bite-size pieces then massage the kale with your fingers for 2 minutes or so, just until it starts to get tender. Then just add in the toasted bread, roasted vegetables, and all the other ingredients. Toss and dress the salad with the dressing, tossing again before serving so the bread has a chance to soak up the vinaigrette.
More delicious salad recipes to try:
- Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Spinach Salad
- Spinach Bacon & Egg Salad with Creamy Honey Mustard Dressing
- Chopped Kale Salad
- Winter Pear, Pomegranate & Swiss Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
For the Salad
- 1 loaf Rosemary Olive Oil bread (or other crusty Italian bread), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 lb. brussels spouts, ends trimmed and sliced in half
- 1/2 of a red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 cups chopped lacinato kale (aka dinosaur kale)
- 1 large Envy apple, cored and chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 4 ounce goat cheese, broken up into small chunks
- 1/2 cup pecans
For the Dressing
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely minced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the cubed bread in a single layer on a large baking sheet, then toast in the oven for 10 minutes, just until the bread is toasted and starting to brown on the edges. Set aside.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. On a large baking sheet, combine the butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and red onion and drizzle with the olive oil, tossing the vegetables to coat evenly. Spread the vegetables into a single, even layer and season with salt and pepper, to taste, then place in the oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender. Remove and cool to room temperature.
- Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, cinnamon, garlic, and rosemary in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake well, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle the chopped kale with a pinch of salt and massage with your hands for 2 minutes to soften it. Add the toasted bread cubes, roasted vegetables, chopped apple, dried cranberries, pecans, and goat cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to combine, then let rest for 30 minutes before serving, tossing occasionally until dressing is completely absorbed by the bread.
You could sub pepitas for pecans, dried cherries for cranberries, or spinach for kale, if you prefer.
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 502 Saturated Fat: 14g Cholesterol: 5mg Sodium: 278mg Carbohydrates: 44g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 26g Protein: 9g
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