I had a whole slew of lovely winter vegetables leftover from a few other meals this week plus half of a gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread. It absolutely screamed winter panzanella to me. The resulting salad made for a wonderful, satisfying lunch salad, cozy enough for a snow day (like today!). - fiveandspice —fiveandspice
Test Kitchen Notes
What a lovely, tasty salad. I love the crunch of the apple in contrast to the softness of the butternut, and the kale adds a lovely crispness. If your bread is fairly crusty, remove the crust and cut into smaller pieces (about 1/2-inch pieces). Also, if you're feeling gluttonous, double the dressing recipe and you'll find a little piece of heaven. I had an extra apple sitting in my fruit bowl, so added a second one. It is tasty with one and tastier with two!
1-inch cubes of good, crusty sourdough, a day old
2 1/2 cups
butternut squash, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes (about 1/2 squash)
large purple beet, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
very thinly sliced cavolo nero (Tuscan kale)
finely diced, red onion
crisp, tart apple (Granny Smith or Braeburn, or your preference), cored and cut into cubes
smoked mozarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (the salad is also quite tasty, not surprisingly, with crumbled blue cheese, if you prefer that.)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Maple-mustard balsamic vinaigrette
crushed garlic (I know that seems like a weird amount, but I just don't like my salad dressings very garlicky. You can add more if you like more.)
Preheat your oven to 425F. Toss the beet cubes with a small amount of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spread them in a baking pan and pop them into the oven. Roast until just for tender, about 40 minutes.
In the meantime, toss the butternut cubes with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, spread them in another baking pan and roast alongside the beets until tender, but not about to fall apart. About 20-25 minutes.
Take the butternut squash and the beets out of the oven as they are finished and set aside to allow them to cool for a while.
In a very large sautee pan, heat about 2 Tbs. olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Toss in the bread cubes and toss them around. Cook, tossing frequently, until they become golden browned, 10ish minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.
At this point, slice the kale and the red onion and put them in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients except the olive oil. Then, gradually whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. Pour about half of the dressing in with the kale and onion and toss to coat.
Once the bread, butternut squash, and beets are lightly warm, but not hot toss them with the kale and onion in the bowl. Add the rest of the dressing and toss more. Finally, add the cheese and apple pieces (and a few sliced sage leaves, if you wish) and toss thoroughly until everything is well combined. If you like your salad with more dressing, feel free to double the dressing amount. I've always preferred 'scantily clad' salads, but this has been a bone of contention at times in my family since others prefer thoroughly drenched salads.
Serve immediately, or allow to sit for about a half hour at room temperature before serving to allow the bread to soften and the flavors to mingle.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.