September is usually my favorite month in Chicago, but this year we’ve had a bit of a rough start with the weather. It’s been so grey and chilly that I’ve had to start using my heavy fall coat already. While I’m none too pleased about this weather, I do have to admit that I love all of the other aspects of fall – especially the food.
My parents came over for lunch on Sunday, and I wanted to make something simple and easy to share. A salad immediately came to mind, but I was looking for something to make it heartier for the chilly weather. I decided to make a twist on classic panzanella: an autumnal version with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, pine nuts and a honey vinaigrette. It turned out so well that I wanted to share the recipe right away.
I love how the bread in panzanella soaks up all of the delicious dressing without becoming overly soggy. There are so many other things I like about the salad – the tart and crunchy pomegranate seeds, the creamy goat cheese, and the sweet dressing. The roasted butternut squash makes the salad more filing, yet it doesn’t make it overly heavy. Each bite exudes autumn to me.
- About 3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 large ciabatta loaf (about 12 oz.) cut into large cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- About 5 cups spinach
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup goat cheese crumbles
- ¼ toasted pine nuts
- For the dressing:
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, combine the butternut squash with the olive oil, salt, cloves, cayenne and cinnamon. Transfer to a baking sheet.
- On a separate baking sheet, toss bread cubes with olive oil and salt.
- Add both baking sheets to the oven, with the bread cubes going on the top rack. Bake the bread for about 10-15 minutes, until the bread is crispy. Keep cooking the butternut squash for about 15 minutes longer (about 25 minutes total).
- Prepare dressing by whisking the cider vinegar, honey and lemon juice together. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking to emulsify the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- When there is about 5 minutes left on the butternut squash, pour about half the dressing and all of the croutons into a medium bowl. Mix well to ensure all of the croutons are coated.
- As the butternut squash continues to bake, assemble the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- After the butternut squash has cooled for a couple of minutes, add it to the salad along with the croutons and the remainder of the dressing. Toss well and serve immediately.
Claire Ryan says
I think this has to be my new OSK favorite recipe – cheers to autumn! The earthy color palette reminds me of my favorite fall scarf, and the flavor combination of cayenne and cinnamon is such a comforting one. Is it too early for second dinner?
Thanks, Claire! I hope you like the recipe 🙂 You’ll have to wear that scarf soon, because I want to know which one you’re talking about!
Isadora @ she likes food says
I’m so jealous of your coat weather! Feel free to send it my way! It has been raining a lot here which has made it a little cooler, but still too warm for my liking! I was just thinking about making a fall panzanella salad the other day and how awesome it would be! This really does look great and I see this panzanella salad in my future very soon!
Thank you, Isadora! This fall panzanella is definitely one of my new favorites. I’ve heard about all of the rain you guys are getting in the southwest – I hope you are doing okay!
Katie @ Whole Nourishment says
Hello fall!! I love your autumnal version of panzanella, Julia. It’s beautiful and seems like a delicious combination of sweet, tangy, and creamy.
Thank you so much, Katie! I love when salads turn out to be beautiful – it makes them even more appetizing. Plus, this salad has all of the colors of fall!
Silvia Ghersa says
You surprise me almost every day with a different thing, what a nice gift!!
I like to cook but with you, I don’t have to “think” what to do anymore, thanks Julia!
… Pomegranate with butter squash and goat cheese… mmmhh!! Delicious!!!!
Thank you Silvia 🙂 I hope you like the recipe! When we visit you in October, we can cook together!
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen says
Love this dish – the roasted butternut squash and pomegranate seeds are inspired additions. Not quite fall here yet but pinning for the hopefully cool future!
Thanks, Geraldine! I was really happy with how the butternut squash and pomegranate seeds turned out in the salad. I realized that I need to start using pomegranate seeds much more often – they are wonderful!
Even if I weren’t your mother, I would say the same thing: absolutely fabulous salad! The squash was an inspired addition and the dressing really hit all the right notes…sweet and tangy with the tiniest bit of heat. Pomegranate seeds added nice color and a bit of crunch. Once again, I have to admit that I’d never had a panzanella before and wow, was it terrific. Well done, Julia!
Thank you, mum! I am so glad you enjoyed it. It was fun to test it out on you guys – good thing it turned out well 🙂
As the other beneficiary of this wonderful creation, I want to emphasize what a perfect fall lunch it was. The bread and the squash gave it enough heft to satisfy even as the weather reminds us that hibernation season is coming. I often have one particular ingredient to single out as the star. With this salad, though, the whole really was greater than the sum of the parts. It all came together so well — the crunch and piquancy from the seeds, the full flavor of the bread (without being soggy or overpowering), the subtle sweetness of the dressing, and the amazing sweet-savory taste from the squash. We’ll happily be guinea pigs again any time you want.
Why thank you! It’s especially nice to get a compliment from someone who actually tasted the dish already. I agree – the sum of the parts was what made the salad special. I’m so glad you and mum enjoyed it!
I made this for dinner tonight, along with paella, and it was a big hit at our house. The flavours in the salad marry so well, and the dressing has way more flavour than you would expect from the short list of ingredients. Thanks so much for a great recipe.
Vivian, I am so glad you liked the dish! I love the dressing too – I use olive oil, apple cider vinegar and honey (or sometimes maple syrup) as the base of many of my dressings. It’s so easy to make and I always have the ingredients on hand. Thanks for such a nice comment!
Renee H. says
What a killer combination! Dark leafy greens topped with warm chunks of squash and goat cheese is one of my favorite things. You have inspired me to tackle the butternut juggernaut looming on my counter top.
Thanks, Renee! I’ve gotten really into adding squash or sweet potatoes to salads lately. It’s a nice way to make a salad heartier and more appropriate for chilly weather. I hope you enjoy the recipe!