I've used this recipe for many different occasions, and it's perfect for pleasing large groups of people, everybody loves it! Although it's titled "fall", once you've tried it you will definitely be making it year 'round! All the components of the salad work so well together, especially the crunch and nuttiness from the toasted walnuts! —Liz
Fall Panzanella Salad
Butternut squash, peeled & cut medium dice
Lightly coat the diced squash with some of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash out on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees until it is tender yet still holding its shape. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Rehydrate the dried cranberries in hot water for 5-10 minutes, discard the water.
Cut the ciabatta down the center lengthwise and brush the insides very lightly with the remaining olive oil. Grill the bread, cut side down, over medium heat to dry out and get marks. Rotate the bread halfway through to get crosshatch marks. Cool and cut the bread into medium dice. If needed, bake the cubes in the oven to dry out further. The cubes should be crisp on the outside but still slightly tender and chewy on the inside. Should not be completely dried out like croutons.
Once the squash is cool, toss with the roasted shallot vinaigrette (as needed to coat the squash lightly) in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Place the squash on desired platter or serving tray. Garnish with the ciabatta, cranberries, walnuts, blue cheese, and sage. Serve & enjoy!!!
Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette
Peel the shallots and garlic, remove the cores, and place them in an ovenproof sauce pan and COMPLETELY submerge them with the oil. Cover the pan with foil or a lid, and place in a 350 degree oven until the shallots are tender and roasted.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Separate the garlic and shallots from the oil and reserve both.
Place the vinegar, honey, herbs, shallots, and garlic in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Drizzle in the reserved olive oil until a smooth emulsion is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.