Fall Panzanella Salad

Salads  |  Published Oct 12, 2020  |  Updated Oct 12, 2020  |  By Tawnie

fall salad in a white bowl

While everyone is getting excited about Pumpkin Spiced lattes with pumpkin bread, we’re over here drooling over this hearty and delectable Fall Panzanella Salad ♡

This ultimate Fall salad is made with crispy olive oil soaked French bread, sweet butternut squash, apples, and dried cranberries, balanced with fresh arugula, kale, and pecans.

You’ll be sure to love this plant-powered salad and how simple it is to make.

up close photo of roasted butternut squash

What is Panzanella?

Panzanella salads may be thought of as a summer staple and not much as a fall favorite.

Traditionally, Panzanella is an Italian bread salad made with onions, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, vinegar and seasonings and chunks of bread.

The magic of the salad is really in the bread because it soaks up all dressing and juices from the vegetables, and turns into this incredible crunchy yet soft goodness. 

But who said we can’t eat Panzanella salads in the fall?!

I really enjoy making and eating this salad because it’s hassle-free, easy to make and proof that salads aren’t boring!

panzanella ingredients in a large white bowl

The roasted butternut squash and dried cranberries add sweetness yet & leafy greens and tangy cheese (goat or feta) add a touch of savory… best of both worlds!

The dressing ties the whole salad together with its to.die.for taste – it has a little sweetness from the honey and brightness from the lemon. Get ready for a new fall favorite!

This Panzanella salad is:

  • Better than summer salads because apples 🙂
  • Full of fresh and vibrant fall flavors
  • Healthy and nutritious, packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • An easy salad to liven up your weeknight dinner
  • Perfect for lunch, dinner, side dish or a snack!

Fall Panzanella Ingredients

For the salad:

  • Day old French bread (bite sized cubes)
  • Butternut Squash ( 1-1/2 inch cubes)
  • Olive oil
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Honeycrisp or Fuji Apple
  • Roasted Almonds, pecans or Pepitas
  • Goat cheese or Feta
  • Dried Cranberries
ingredients needed to make fall panzanella salad

For the dressing

  • Olive oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Sherry Vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dijon
  • Shallots
  • Salt & Pepper

How to Make Panzanella Bread Salad

step by step photos of making a fall salad
  • Toast the bread. This only takes ~15 minutes, we don’t want to make croutons!
  • Roast the butternut squash.
  • Massage the kale. Let rest.
  • Make the dressing.
  • Toss the arugula, kale, apples, pecans, feta, dried cranberries, butternut squash and bread together in a large bowl.
  • Serve with dressing on the side or toss dressing in the salad if serving immediately.

How Long Does Panzanella Salad Last?

After a few hours, the bread will get soggy and mushy. I recommend to consume within a few hours, or leave bread on the side if you plan on having leftovers.

Can I Prep Panzanella in Advance?

Yes! You can toast the bread and butternut squash in advance to speed up the salad making process when you’re ready to make it.

Also, make the dressing ahead of time if you’d like too! I wouldn’t pour the dressing over the salad because it may get soggy.

fall salad in a white bowl

What to serve with Panzanella?

Serve Fall Panzanella Salad with roasted chicken, beef or ground turkey meatballs, roasted turkey, or as a starter to a vegetarian dish such as eggplant parmesan.

Tips for Making Italian Bread Salad

  • Toast the bread in the oven for ~10 minutes. We want it toasted, and not hard like croutons.
  • Let the Panzanella salad sit for a bit (15-20 minutes) before serving so that the flavors meld and for the bread to soak up a good bit of the dressing before completely melting into the salad.
  • Use FRESH leafy greens, apples and squash for a fresh taste.
  • Using at-least day-old bread or stale bread is the best bread. It’s key for Panzanella salads.
  • Remember that it’s all about textures. Don’t let the bread soak too long that it disintegrates.

What is your favorite way to eat butternut squash?

fall salad in a white bowl
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Fall Panzanella Salad

This ultimate Fall salad is made with crispy olive oil soaked French bread, sweet butternut squash, apples, and dried cranberries, balanced with fresh arugula, kale, and pecans.
5 from 5 reviews
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 399kcal

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 loaf French bread*
  • 20 oz. butternut squash, pre cut
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 large apple, cut into cubes (we like Honey crisp or Fuji)
  • 1 cup pecans* (or walnuts or peptias)
  • 1 cup feta cheese (or goat cheese)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
TEXT INGREDIENTS

Instructions

  • Toast the bread: preheat the oven to 300°F. Cube the bread into ~1 inch bite sized cubes. Place on a baking sheet, toss with 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and toast for 15-20 minutes.
  • Roast the butternut squash: Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Place cubed butternut squash on a baking sheet. Toss with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil. Spread evenly on pan. Bake until fork tender, ~35 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Massage the kale: Pull the kale leaves off from the stems and discard the stems. Use a chef’s knife to chop the kale into small, bite-sized pieces. Transfer the kale to a big bowl. Drizzle olive oil generously over the kale and use your hands to massage the kale leaves (lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color). About 2 minutes.
  • Make the dressing: In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.
  • In a large salad bowl, combine the arugula, kale, apples, pecans, feta, dried cranberries, butternut squash and bread together. Serve with dressing on the side or toss dressing in the salad if serving immediately.

Video

Notes

Toast the pecans if preferred: Preheat the oven to 350°F and spread the pecans on a baking sheet. Toast them until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice to make sure they bake evenly. Remove the tray from the oven and set them aside to cool.
Instead of toasting the bread cubes, you can also dry them if you plan ahead: Spread the bread cubes over a baking sheet. Leave uncovered overnight to stale and harden. When ready to make the salad, you won’t have to toast them!
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Nutrition

Calories: 399kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Potassium: 519mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 201mg | Iron: 3mg

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4 Comments
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Beth Sachs
1 year ago

What a beautiful seasonal salad using all my favourite ingredients. Will be giving this a go at the weekend!

1 year ago

Such a a tasty and delicious salad – so love all the textures in this!

Helen @ family-friends-food.com
1 year ago

Wow! That looks like such a tasty and filling salad, and perfect for this time of year, too.

Sandra Shaffer
1 year ago

I was looking for a recipe to use my butternut squash and found you on Pinterest. Love the twist to a traditional panzanella salad. This fall version is wonderful. Thank you!

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