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Winter squash panzanella recipe {vegetarian}

Winter squash panzanella, a cold-weather spin on a favorite Italian bread salad.

Panzanella, a rustic Italian salad, transforms stale bread into the most desirable mate for ripe tomatoes (and their juices), onions, olives and basil. My garden gave up on tomatoes and basil a couple of months ago, but I always seem to have some leftover bread on hand. In this winter squash panzanella, I paired sweet roasted acorn squash with sautéed red onions, pecans, and a bit of feta. A bright sherry vinaigrette brings it all together, and the roasted squash seeds complete the dish. Remember that this salad begins with leftovers, so substitute freely with any roasted vegetables you have on hand. And if you don't have any stale bread, cut what you do have into cubes and dry it in the oven for 15 minutes before adding to the salad.

Winter squash panzanella, a meal in a bowl.

Winter squash panzanella

From the pantry, you'll need: olive oil, pecans, onion, feta cheese, sherry vinegar.

Serves 4.


5 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 acorn squash
1/4 cup roasted squash seeds
3 cups stale bread cubes*
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tsp of olive oil. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy part of the flesh, and place the two halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast at 400F for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, but don't turn the oven off.

While the squash is cooking, wash and dry the squash seeds, and set aside.

In a small nonstick frying pan, heat 1-1/2 tsp of olive oil over low heat. Sauté the onion until it is soft and translucent, and just starting to brown, 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the squash comes out of the oven, remove it from the baking sheet. Sprinkle the squash seeds on the same pan, and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and scrape the seeds into a bowl.

*If you are not starting with stale bread, put the cubed bread on the baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 15 minutes until it is quite crisp but not brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

When the squash is cooled to room temperature, scoop out the flesh and cut it into large cubes. Place the squash in a large mixing bowl with the bread, onions, pecans and feta cheese.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk the sherry vinegar and remaining olive oil, plus a pinch each of salt and pepper, until well incorporated, and pour over the salad ingredients. Toss well to combine. Season with additional black pepper, to taste, and serve at room temperature.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More winter salads:
Bread salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette, from The Perfect Pantry
Panzanella, from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once
Greek style panzanella, from Farmgirl Fare
Wild mushroom and cornbread panzanella salad, from Cookin' Canuck
Turkey panzanella, from Rookie Cookery

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love a classic panzanella salad! This winter/fall take on it sounds wonderful!

What a delicious looking salad! I love red onions in a salad.

Pam, I took inspiration from that classic, and the sharp vinaigrette works equally well with winter vegetables. Give it a try.

Curt, I love red onions when they're cooked a bit, or cooked all the way down to caramelization. Enjoy this salad, with or without!

What a unique panzanella idea - love the warm wintery flavors brightened up with the sherry vinegar.

Oh Lydia - such a good looking salad. My innards cant "do" the pecans or squash seeds, but the rest would be wonderful.

I hope you are warm and cosy in your lovely log cabin home. It is supposedly summer here now ... after several very wet, soggy days there is much room for improvement!!!!

Luckily my cat chooses to be a mostly indoor boy. Sending our huggles, his deep and loud puRRRRumbles and our care,

Michelle and Zebby Cat

Jeanette, the sherry vinegar really pulls everything into balance in this dish.

Michelle (and Zebby), you can substitute for the nuts and seeds with something that works for you (pine nuts, maybe?), or just leave it out. We're enjoying a warm spell right now, and it feels more like spring here than winter. Maybe we have your weather by mistake!

How hearty! I'm sure it's delicious.

I am a bit late commenting but I have to say this "winter twist" on a summer dish is genius! I might just serve this as a side at Christmas!

I would leave out the cheese and drizzle this salad with honey and melted butter. Now that is a healthy salad dessert!

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