Winter Panzanella

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad typically made with pieces of stale bread which absorb the salad dressing and juices from the vegetable ingredients in the salad.  Panzanella made with fresh summer tomatoes is one of my absolute favorite summer salads.  But what about winter panzanella?  I had some leftover pumpernickel bread, so I decided to create a winter panzanella.  

Roasted acorn squash, crisp apple, sauteed kale and toasted hazelnuts all contribute to this delightfully wintry salad.  This salad is amazing and rivals the summer classic.  It would be an excellent addition to any holiday table.

 winter panzanella


 

Winter Panzanella
A winter take on the summer classic.
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Salad Ingredients
  1. 1/4 acorn squash, partially peeled and cubed*
  2. 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil, divided
  3. 1 TBSP dried sage, divided
  4. salt and pepper
  5. ~4 leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
  6. 1 thick slice of pumpernickel bread, cut into cubes
  7. 1/2 apple, cored and thinly sliced
  8. 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  9. 2 cups baby spinach
  10. 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, optional (I love Maytag blue cheese)
Dressing Ingredients
  1. 1 TBSP maple syrup**
  2. 1 TBSP whole grain brown mustard
  3. 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  4. 1 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  5. salt and pepper
Prepare Salad Ingredients
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss squash cubes with 1/2 TBSP oil, 1/2 TBSP sage, salt and pepper and arrange on a baking sheet so that pieces are not touching each other.
  3. Roast squash for ~20 minutes until tender.
  4. While squash is roasting, heat sautee pan on medium heat and add 1/2 TBSP oil.
  5. Add kale to pan and sautee for ~5 minutes until wilted and tender.
  6. Toss bread cubes with remaining 1/2 TBSP oil,1/2 TBSP sage, and salt and pepper
  7. Arrange bread cubes on baking sheet or toaster oven pan and toast at 400 degrees for ~5-8 minutes until bread is dried out.
  8. While bread is toasting, toast hazelnuts on medium heat in a dry pan until fragrant and lightly browned.
Prepare Dressing
  1. Combine maple syrup, mustard, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Season with salt and pepper and shake to combine.
Assemble Salad
  1. Combine salad ingredients together in a large bowl. pour on dressing (you probably won't need all the dressing) and toss to combine.
Notes
  1. *Winter squashes with ridges like acorn squash and delicata can be a challange to peel. The skin is edible on both squashes, but I find that too much of the skin (particularly with acorn squash) can be unpleasant. When preparing an acorn or delicata squash for roasting in the oven in pieces, I use a partial-peel method. Basically, I peel off the skin that can easily be removed with a vegetable peeler, and leave the rest (the inside of the ridges) in tact. The result is a striped effect, and it's particularly lovely when serving the squash in rings or half-rings.
  2. **Use real maple syrup, not maple-flavored high fructose corn syrup (aka "crap"). The ingredient list on your maple syrup should contain one item:100% pure maple syrup. If there are other ingredients on the list, put it back on the shelf and look for pure maple syrup.
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