Autumn Squash Panzanella

I love panzanella. This humble dish usually combines stale bread, ripe tomatoes, and a simple dressing to create a savory, rich, satisfying salad. When I spied a bright orange Kuri squash in my CSA box, I decided to remodel the classic panzanella salad into a satisfying main dish starring autumn bounty – winter squashes. This chunky vegan salad is hearty enough to be a meal, and is toothsome, flavorful and nutritionally dense. Bonus! This keeps beautifully in the fridge for several days, making this a quick lunch.

Autumn Squash Panzanella

Think of this recipe as a template rather than a detailed list, as many of the components can be switched out for what’s ripe and ready to enjoy in your gardens and markets. I used Kuri squash in this recipe, but you could substitute Butternut or any other smooth fleshed winter squash. I threw in some walnut halves, but you could substitute any nut of your choosing. I had some leftover Acme Cranberry Walnut Levain (fancy!) but you could use the hearty bread of your choosing. I chose an aged sherry vinegar for this recipe, but you can use the vinegar of your choosing. You get the drift! The key is to balance the flavors and textures in your dish: savory, sweet, creamy, crunchy, rich, bright. Strive to keep the flavors working togther. Enjoy!

Autumn Squash Panzanella
serves 8

Small Kuri squash
one apple, cored and cubed
one cup walnut pieces, very lightly toasted
two cups baby arugula
four slices dense, rustic bread
1/4 cup best quality olive oil, plus more for roasting the squash
two – three TB excellent quality vinegar
salt and pepper
1/3 cup parmesean cheese, shaved – OPTIONAL

Start by prepping the squash and bread. Seed and cube the squash. For thin skinned squashes, leave on the skin. Peel thicker skinned hard squash. Toss the squash cubes with a small amount of olive oil, then spread on a baking sheet. Roast until tender in a 375 degree oven. Cool to room temp.

Cube the bread, and if the bread is still fresh, place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven along with the roasting squash to dry out the bread. This seems counter intuitive, but the dry bread will soak up the dressing and juices of the apple really nicely. It’s what makes panzanella so delicious!

Combine the roasted squash, apple, bread, arugula, walnuts, olive oil, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. I like to add the vinegar last, drizzling in a little, tasting, then adjusting as needed.

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