If you’ve taken fresh salads off the menu because the leaves are falling, you’re missing out! Butternut Squash Panzanella spins a summer classic into a fall favorite. Featuring sweet, roasted butternut squash and toasty chunks of mildly tart La Brea Bakery Sourdough Loaf sourced from our local Safeway, this surprising side dish is both rustic and elegant, tangy and mellow. And don’t worry – for you purists, there’s still plenty of leafy greens in this vegan super salad!
This post has been sponsored by La Brea Bakery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you’re one of the seemingly thousands of people that have become obsessed with making your own sourdough in 2020, then may the gods bless your starters.
But for those of us with… let’s call it questionable acumen in the realm of baking… we offer up our blessings to La Brea Bakery for developing original recipes for 30 years and to our local Safeway® for consistently having a hearty, fresh supply of their quality, delicious, (and not to objectify, but…) stunningly gorgeous loaves to choose from in their Bakery section. I mean, just look at that caramelized, crunchy golden crust. It’s downright sexy.
I definitely have a cache of relatively foolproof and delicious from-scratch baked goods in my arsenal, like cookies and quick breads (and let’s be real, calling those “bread” is like arguing that muffins aren’t just cupcakes without frosting). But when it comes to bread-bread – like a Sourdough Loaf – my satisfaction comes entirely from eating guaranteed-delicious bread, not attempting (and failing) to make it. And why would I?
La Brea has maintained the same handcrafted quality and uncompromising standards by using only the finest, pure, simple ingredients for like three decades. Their commitment to responsibly sourced, GMO-free ingredients is very much in line with OSK’s. Plus, their founder has both a James Beard Award and a Michelin Star so, yeah, they basically “had me at hello.”
When I knew I wanted to do a fall Panzanella with butternut squash, I knew from previous experience I could rely on La Brea’s Sourdough Loaf to yield the best taste and texture for the recipe (and I know I can always rely on Safeway to have fresh loaves in stock), but I am always slightly concerned about sourcing off-the-beaten-path items… like pomegranates.
And this is another reason I love Safeway. Their mobile app makes it super easy to check on availability and create shopping lists from the comfort of my own kitchen, so I know whether I can get everything I need in one stop (and by “I,” I mean my husband) before I ever head out the door. I don’t know if their entire produce department are all actually farmers by day, but I also never have to worry about the quality of the ingredients Cameron comes back with either.
Squash? Check. Poms? Check. Sourdough Loaf? Check. Let’s do this!
What is panzanella?
I could try to wax poetically on the rustic, Tuscan origins of panzanella, but let’s keep this simple: it’s really just bread salad. And before you ask, the lightly toasted chunks of bread in a panzanella are not to be confused with croutons.
First of all, in a panzanella, the bread is the star of the show (or at the very least, gets equal billing) and is not treated as a topping. Second, it’s certainly not hard enough to chip a tooth on. Ideally, you toast the bread just enough so that it can stand to take on moisture from the oil, vinegar, and other vegetables in the dish without turning into bread pudding.
Fall Panzanella Ingredients
- Butternut Squash: roasted with olive oil and salt
- La Brea Bakery Sourdough Loaf: pick up a pre-baked loaf from your local Safeway Bakery
- Kale: use curly leaf, not flat
- Pomegranate Seeds: pom season is in full swing, so get ’em fresh while the gettin’s good!
- Red Onion: thinly sliced so they macerate in the allotted time
- Pecans: use whole, not pieces. Toast at 350 for about 7 minutes
- Maple Vinaigrette: maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and extra virgin olive oil
How to make butternut squash panzanella
A “you won’t believe it’s vegan” Thanksgiving super salad is less than an hour away. This salad can stand at room temperature for a few hours, so it’s a great make-ahead option. Be sure to check the recipe card for detailed instructions and step-by-step photos.
- Roast the butternut squash until tender.
- Dice the sourdough then toast in the oven until lightly browned and dry.
- Make the maple vinaigrette.
- Toss the kale and red onion with half the vinaigrette. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes (this will remove the bitter edge from both the onions and kale, as well as soften the plant proteins in the kale).
- Add the pomegranates and toasted pecans, as well as the bread cubes and roasted squash to the kale. Pour in the remaining vinaigrette.
- Toss the salad thoroughly. Serve warm or room temperature.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Clean your greens. And don’t just wash – inspect and prep (i.e. trim as necessary) even if you buy it by the bag and not the bunch!
- Always leave plenty of breathing room on the baking sheet for your squash so they roast evenly. Crowding leads to steaming leads to mush.
- Remember, you’re toasting (not baking) the Sourdough Loaf. You want your cubes golden, not brown.
- If you can’t find whole pomegranate, look for pre-packaged fresh seeds in the pre-cut section of the produce department.
Make it in advance
Panzanella is delicious both warm and room temperature, so if you need to check one less thing off your list, go ahead and prep the day before. Toast the cubed Sourdough Loaf, then store at room temperature in a gallon ziplock bag. Roast the butternut squash and store in the fridge. Make the dressing and store in a lidded jar at room temperature. One hour before serving, proceed with steps 7 and 8. Keep at room temperature to take the chill off the squash.
What’s the easiest way to cut butternut squash?
- Slice the ends off with a strong, large kitchen knife.
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
- Cut in half lengthwise and use a spoon or melon baller to remove the seeds.
- Slice and dice as normal.
What’s the easiest way to extract seeds from a pomegranate?
- Use a paring knife to remove the stem.
- Score into quarters, only cutting through the red skin and not into the white flesh.
- Use your hands to break apart into 4 pieces.
- Use a spoon to gently scrape the seeds out and into a bowl. Remove any pith.
More fabulous fall salad recipes
- Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Sunbutter Sauce
- Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Creamy Maple Dressing
- Autumn Crunch Butter Lettuce Salad
- Arugula Pear Salad with Pistachios and Pomegranate
- Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Turmeric and Tahini
Did you make this butternut squash salad? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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- 1 small butternut squash, 2 lb, cubed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 loaf La Brea Sourdough, diced into 1” cubes
- 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, chopped
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- ⅓ c pomegranate seeds
- ½ c pecans, toasted
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and salt. Arrange on the parchment lined baking sheet and arrange in a single layer. Transfer to the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
- Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a second baking sheet.
- When the timer goes off, remove the butternut squash, flip or stir the pieces, then return to the oven. Add the sourdough cubes to the oven on a separate rack. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, remove the bread cubes from the oven; they should be lightly golden brown and completely dry. Check the butternut squash - it should be tender and lightly caramelized; if not, return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Make the vinaigrette. Whisk the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and mustard in a 1-cup measuring cup. Add the olive oil in a steady stream and whisk until emulsified.
- Combine the kale and red onion in a large salad bowl with half the vinaigrette. Toss until evenly coated, then set aside to macerate for 10 minutes.
- Add the pomegranates, pecans, roasted squash, and toasted sourdough to the kale, as well as the remaining vinaigrette. Toss until well combined. Serve warm or room temperature.