Harvest Panzanella Salad

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

This salad is always a crowd favorite. It's quickly become a staple at my family's gatherings. Hearty greens, zesty vinaigrette, and crusty sourdough bread. My taste buds are calling!

I love panzanella salad. Like, I have a bit of an unhealthy relationship with it. Anytime I’m asked to bring a side dish, it’s my go-to. It’s ALWAYS a crowd-pleaser, can be made any time of the year, and is basically a blank canvas of crusty bread and tender greens. What is not to love?

A few weeks ago, we went to my husband’s fall office party. It’s always a blast and everyone brings their favorite dish. You can bet this made its way onto the spread of yummy eats.

During the summer, I use tomatoes grown in our garden, tender mixed baby greens, and anything else I can find at the farmer’s market. But this time of year, I’m all about a squash moment, so here we are. Featuring butternut squash and acorn squash, I’ve also topped this salad with roasted sweet potatoes – which basically is its own food group in my diet.

My secret ingredient, though – sweet roasted shallots. If you’ve never oven roasted a shallot, are you even living? The trick is to slice them paper thin so they become crispy, kind of like those canned fried onions you serve atop green bean casserole. It only takes one small shallot to pack a BIG punch of flavor.

And for the bread, you MUST use crusty sourdough bread. The slight tang from the sourdough balances out the sweetness of the shallots and squash so dang perfectly. Pared with a whole grain mustard vinaigrette…ok, my mouth is watering, so let’s get started with the recipe!

Tips + Tricks

You will notice in the recipe that I don’t provide an exact size loaf of sourdough bread to purchase. That’s because it will never be the same. It varies from store to store, so I don’t want to send you all over town looking for an exact sized loaf of bread. You won’t use the entire thing for this recipe, so just save the rest for another dinner. You can even wrap it and freeze it for the next time you make this yummy creation.

The most important thing to remember with sourdough is that you MUST find the crustiest kind possible! That’s sometimes a tough task in Knoxville – we aren’t known for our bread bakeries, but you can usually find a decent on at your local grocery store.

For the vinaigrette: Sometimes, if I’m in a hurry or just don’t feel like pulling out my blender to mix up my dressing, I will use my protein shake blender bottle instead! My husband actually came up with this trick, and I think it’s genius. We often store our vinaigrettes in this type of vessel, since they will settle and separate over time. It makes “re-emulsifying” a breeze!

For the greens: I love to use a mixture of spinach, baby kale and baby arugula. The dressing slightly wilts the greens, especially if you’re bringing to a party, and these hold up well! Plus, they provide an added crunch to your salad.

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