Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 4 salads
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Tuscan
This winter panzanella salad features roasted butternut squash, kale, toasted croutons, cranberries and shallots tossed in homemade balsamic vinaigrette. Recipe yields 3 to 4 meal-sized salads.
Roasted butternut squash
- 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced into 3/4-inch cubes
- 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted croutons and seeds
- 1 small loaf (about 1/2 pound) crusty whole grain bread, sliced into 1-inch cubes
- 4 tablespoons seeds, such as pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds and/or sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 large bunch of Tuscan kale or regular curly kale, ribs removed and chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
- 2/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 medium shallot (the whole bulb, papery skin removed), sliced super thin
- Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper for easier cleanup (I used one large half-sheet for the butternut and a smaller quarter-sheet for the croutons).
- Roast the squash: On one of your lined baking sheets, toss the cubed butternut in enough olive oil to lightly coat all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange the butternut in a single layer. Roast on the lower third rack until the butternut is tender throughout and caramelized on the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes, tossing at the 20 minute mark when you add the croutons during step 4.
- Prepare the croutons: On your other baking sheet, combine the cubed bread with the seeds and salt. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to lightly coat the bread. Don’t worry about trying to get the seeds to stick to the bread, just try to make sure they’re lightly coated in oil. Arrange the mixture in a single layer so no croutons are on top of one another.
- Once you have tossed the butternut and placed it back on the lower rack, place the sheet of croutons on the upper rack. Toast the bread for 10 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove the croutons from the oven and check the squash—it will probably need 5 to 10 more minutes before the edges are caramelized. Once the butternut is done, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool.
- To prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients until emulsified.
- To prepare the kale: Transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Final assembly: Add the grated cheese, cranberries and shallot to the bowl. Drizzle enough dressing into the bowl to lightly coat the leaves (you might not need all of it), then toss to coat. Add the roasted butternut and croutons and gently toss to combine. Drizzle in extra dressing if the salad seems like it needs it. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Make it gluten free: Substitute good gluten-free bread or skip the bread altogether.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Skip the cheese. You might want to add some sliced kalamata olives to make up for the cheese’s saltiness, or maybe add a dab of white miso to the dressing for some umami.
Make it nut free: Be sure your whole grain bread is nut free.
Change it up: Substitute sweet potato or another winter squash for the butternut. Try chopped pecans or walnuts instead of seeds. Substitute arugula or baby spinach for the kale (no need to massage it). Substitute fresh pomegranate arils for the dried cranberries. All delicious ideas!
Storage suggestions: This salad is best served promptly but keeps well overnight if you want to pack it for lunch the next day.