Fall Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Panzanella

Happy November! It's officially Thanksgiving prep season! Over the next few weeks I'm going to be posting some sides and desserts. I know most of you probably have the main dishes down, so I thought I'd throw in some fun ideas to bring to the table this year. 

First up, this Fall Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Panzanella. Now, we all know my love for Italian food.. and if you didn't know, now you know. I studied in Italy after culinary school, graduating from the Barilla Academy (learn more here). My first love is Italian food.. so, I have a fun fall inspired spin on a Panzanella Salad. "Pane" means bread. Therefore, bread is very important here. Yes, it can be gluten free. "Zanella" means soup bowl or deep bowl, as in the one that it's served in. Usually it's made with soaked stale bread, tomatoes and onions. We are doing things a little different here.. concept is the same, just with different ingredients. 

We roast the butternut squash in honey, cinnamon, olive oil, salt and pepper. I used fresh bread, and roasted it into croutons. You can also use stale bread. The point is that the bread is crunchy, and then soaks up the vinaigrette for flavor. We will be adding kale, because what's a fall salad without kale? The vinaigrette is a simple mix of shallots, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Dijon Mustard. Toppings include dried cranberries, pepitas, sesame seeds, and anything else your heart desires. Add goat cheese, parmesan or even some blue cheese to make it decadent and delicious. 

Alright, enough chatting - let's make this beautiful salad!

Fall Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Panzanella

Butternut Squash

1-2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon honey 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

good pinch of salt and pepper

Croutons 

1 bread boule, cut into about 1-2 inch cubes

     *can use gluten free bread (as shown in picture)

     *you can also use cubed stale bread instead of roasting in the oven*

1 tablespoon olive oil

good pinch of salt and pepper

Salad

1 bunch Lacinato Kale, ribs removed and chopped

pinch of salt 

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons pepitas 

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

optional: goat cheese, parmesan, blue cheese, etc. 

Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated

1 shallot, finely minced or grated

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. First, make the honey cinnamon roasted butternut squash. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Peel the butternut squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into about 1 inch cubes. In a bowl, toss the cubed butternut squash, olive oil, honey, cinnamon, salt and pepper. On a lined cookie sheet, add and bake the butternut squash for about 40 minutes or until caramelized and tender. Toss after 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, cut the bread into cubes. Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to a lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool. If using stale bread, you can skip this step.

3. Next, prepare the kale. In a bowl, add kale and a pinch of salt. Using your hands, massage the kale until dark green and a bit fragrant. Set Aside. 

4. For the vinaigrette, mince or grate the garlic and shallot into a large serving bowl. Add olive oil, dijon mustard, balsamic, salt and pepper and whisk until combined. 

5. To assemble, add the kale to the bowl with the vinaigrette and toss. Add dried cranberries, pepitas, sesame seeds, and any other toppings you'd like. Add bread and butternut squash and toss. Allow salad to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!