How’s your salad game these days?
I’m going to brag here for a second: mine has been pretty epically awesome.
This is partly because I just love getting my creative juices flowing when it comes to assembling salads. But also, it was of the utmost importance that my salads be on point the last few days. Because holy shit, did I overdo it on Thanksgiving (and in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, if I’m being completely honest with myself). By the time the Holiday was over, the combination of excess eating, drinking and stress had me run down in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
So it’s been salads, water, rest and exercise. On repeat. Until I have to ramp things up again for Christmas madness.
The idea for this Autumn Harvest Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Bread came to me in the shower (I always get the best ideas in the shower!) about two weeks ago. I was struggling to come up with a new Fall/Winter salad combination. And then BOOM! The idea hit me like a ton of bricks: make a panzanella salad with pumpkin quick bread instead of regular bread.
At first I didn’t know if that would be totally weird. Would pumpkin quick bread be too sweet? Or not hold up as well against the dressing? But it totally works. And I just love the combination of flavors and textures that this salad provides. It’s anything but boring. And I really digging the seasonally appropriate nature of this recipe, too. Panzanella salads aren’t just for Summer anymore, friends!
I used leftover pumpkin quick bread that I had from the grocery store (yes, I didn’t even bother making my own). But you can bake up a loaf of your favorite recipe. Or buy a loaf from your local bakery. It’s all good. Since quick breads are generally moister than regular breads, just toast the pumpkin bread cubes in your oven (sans olive oil) for a few minutes until they dry out a bit. This will help the bread from getting overly soggy in your salad.
As with most salads, you can totally do your own thing if you want to switch up some of the ingredients. Carrots instead of parsnips totally works. Broccoli instead of brussels sprouts is spot on. And maybe try pears instead of apples. Go wild and have fun with it!
For the Salad
- 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 cups peeled and sliced parsnips
- 2 cups trimmed and halved brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 cups cubed pumpkin bread
- About 8-10 cups mixed greens
- 2 medium apples, cored and sliced
- Fresh cranberries, halved
- Sharp cheddar cheese, crumbled
For the Dressing
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Spread the butternut squash, parsnips and brussels sprouts out into a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Transfer the baking sheet to your pre-heated oven and roast for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Remove and set aside.
- Meanwhile, spread the pumpkin bread cubes out onto a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 15 minutes, or until dry to the touch. Remove and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing.
- Add the greens to a large bowl and toss with some of the dressing until well coated. You probably won’t use all the dressing. Any leftovers can be stored in your refrigerator for several days. Add the roasted vegetables and pumpkin bread cubes, tossing gently to combine. Then divide the salad between 4 serving bowls. Top with apple slices, fresh cranberries and crumbled cheddar cheese. Serve immediately.
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