Colorful fall panzanella salad is full of autumn vegetables like roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Fresh apples, pecans, and pumpkin seeds give it an extra bit of crunch.
Fall salads are some of my favorites. They get earthier, heartier and sometimes, a bit more interesting than their warm weather counterparts.
This one is no exception. There is a ton of flavor going on in this bowl and each bite is better than the one before.
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Fall panzanella salad
Panzanella salad is traditionally a summer dish made with ripe tomatoes, onions and herbs. This autumnal variation is a great way to incorporate the fall bounty of vegetables.
I love color, so when I’m making a salad, I always try to make it as colorful as possible. Rainbow chard is absolutely stunning, just as it is, so it is perfect for this bread salad.
Just look at those stems! They are beautiful. You’ll get a mix of color in your fall panzanella salad from the vegetables you choose, no matter what they are.
You can use this exact recipe or use whatever you have in the fridge. This is a great dish to make with leftover veggies. If you have a handful of a few different vegetables in the fridge that need to get used, toss them in!
How to make bread salad
The first step is obviously the bread. If you have a loaf of bread that is going stale, rescue it and toast it in the oven to make croutons (which is what we’re doing) for this salad.
Stale bread works best (think Thanksgiving stuffing!), but you can use fresh bread too.
Cut it up into cubes, toss it with a little oil, salt and pepper. Roast it in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until the pieces are golden brown. That’s all there is to it.
I highly recommend bookmarking this to make fresh croutons for salads, because they are a game-changer.
Saute the aromatics (onions and garlic) with the chopped up stems from the chard. We just want to take the bite out of the onions, not cook them until they are totally soft.
Once you have everything roasted and toasted, we’re ready to put it all together.
You’ll need the biggest mixing bowl you have. Why? Because this recipe makes a ton, which makes it absolutely perfect for family gatherings, like the holidays.
But, also, because if you try to add everything to a bowl that is too small, you won’t have any room to mix up your delicious fall panzanella salad and it will spill over the sides of the bowl when you’re trying to toss it all together.
Whether you make this fall panzanella salad for Thanksgiving or for a weeknight dinner, it’s a great way to feed a crowd, use up leftover vegetables and it is delicious and satisfying.
This salad hits all the notes – the sweet and tangy dressing, creamy roasted squash, earthy Brussels sprouts, crunchy apples and pecans, plus the toasted bread that soaks up the flavors of everything in this hearty autumn panzanella.
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for the salad
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for tossing with veggies/bread
- 5 cups focaccia or day old crusty bread, cut into 1" cubes
- 1 tsp. garlic, minced
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cups red or rainbow Swiss chard, stems chopped and leaves removed from stems
- 1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
- 1 gala or honeycrisp apple, cored and chopped
- 2 cups diced butternut squash, roasted
- 2 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, roasted
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pecans, toasted
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
for the dressing
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas Mark 5.
- Toss bread with a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crunchy, about 12 - 15 minutes.
- Stack Swiss chard leaves on top of each other and roll up tightly. (like a cigar) With a sharp knife, thinly slice into ribbons and set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat - add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add red onion, garlic and chard stems (not leaves).
- Cook for 6 - 8 minutes, until softened, but still have some texture. Add Granny Smith apple and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Add Swiss chard leaves to the onion mixture in the pan and stir to combine. (The warmth of the vegetables will help to wilt the ribbons of chard)
- Add remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add onion mixture and toasted bread to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Whisk ingredients for dressing together and pour over bread mixture. Toss to thoroughly combine and serve.
Roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash:
Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer for 25 - 30 minutes at 350°F.
Place pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast (dry) in the oven for 6 - 8 minutes at 350°F. Watch them closely, they will go from perfect to burnt very quickly.
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Serving Size:1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 550Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1084mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 9gSugar: 19gProtein: 16g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Recipe originally published 11/20/12. Most recent update 9/9/20.