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Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella Salad

When salads are as delicious as this Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella, I could eat a salad every day!  This panzanella is filled with roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts, red onion, cranberries, blue cheese, and pumpkin seeds, and tossed with a maple vinaigrette.  

Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella

Last week we went out to Marc’s hometown for, what’s becoming, our annual apple picking and pizza making night.  We were originally planning to go the week before, but it was forecasted to be 39 degrees and cloudy.

Since Marc’s parents were prepping all of the ingredients for the pizza, I offered to bring a salad.  I wanted something that screamed “AUTUMN!!” and man, if I didn’t nail it with this Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella Salad.  Not only does everything about it taste like fall but it even has the fall colors.

Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella

So let’s break this Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella Salad down.  First, there’s buttered bread cubes in it.  While I usually toss bread cubes in olive oil and bake them, I saw another panzanella recipe that called for sautéing the bread cubes in butter.  Hell to the yes.  I’m not sure I can make panzanella any other way again because the buttery chunks of bread were pure heaven.

Along with the buttered bread, I roasted butternut squash and brussels sprouts in a EVOO/maple syrup/balsamic vinegar mixture.  I made the mistake of roasting my first batch of butternut squash too long.  I always like to push the limits of roasting vegetables, but with the squash it became too mushy.  It wouldn’t have stood up to the bread.  So I put my pouty pants on, cut up ANOTHER butternut squash, and roasted it to perfection.  Just 30 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella

To pull it all together, I threw in some cranberries, red onion, crumbled blue cheese, and pumpkin seeds.  So. Much. Delicious. Flavor!

The dressing for this panzanella is also definitely worth talking about.  It’s sort of an apple cider vinaigrette, with the addition of some maple syrup and dried herbs.  I chose rosemary and thyme and I love how their flavors came through.

We had a bunch of this leftover after our pizza night, and Marc and I happily ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.  While the bread did get a little soggy on day 2, it was still just as crave-worthy.

This is a perfect fall side dish, but it’s even hearty enough to be a a vegetarian main dish!

Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella Salad

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Ingredients

For the butternut squash:

  • 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeds removed, and cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the buttered bread cubes:

  • 1 lb loaf of whole grain bread cut into 1" chunks
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the rest of the salad:

  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Instructions

Roast the vegetables:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and grease with cooking spray or oil. Set aside.
  • Place butternut squash and brussels sprouts in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Mix well to combine.
  • Spread out among two baking sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until squash is tender and brussels sprouts are cooked.
  • Let cool.

Toast the bread cubes:

  • Add 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add 1/2 of the bread cubes and toss well to coat with the butter/oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for about 3-5 minutes, getting the cubes lightly toasted.
  • Repeat with remaining bread cubes, adding another tablespoon or two of butter as needed.

Make the dressing:

  • Combine all dressing ingredients in a small mason jar. Shake well to combine.

Assemble:

  • Combine buttered bread cubes, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and dressing. Toss well to combine.
  • Add red onion, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and blue cheese and toss to combine.
  • Serve and enjoy!
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Autumn Butternut Squash Panzanella Salad

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