Dishing Up the Dirt

Winter Panzanella with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

One of my favorite local bakeries (Pine Street Bakery) was closed for two weeks after the New Year. I was clearly in the dark about this pre-scheduled closing and drove down from the farm to buy our weekly loaf of bread. I was stopped at the door with a sign indicating that they wouldn’t re-open for 15 more days. That’s right 15 whole days! I was devastated. In fact, I was so desperate for fresh bread that I made my first loaf from scratch. It was only okay- I’m definitely a beginner and need a lot of practice!

Needless to say, I was delighted when Pine Street opened their doors again. I didn’t trust I could whip up another mediocre loaf and I really just wanted fresh bread from a few trusted bakers. I’ll keep working on my homemade recipe but for now I’m as happy as can be supporting my favorite bakery and eating some damn good bread.

I came home with more bread than I normally do after a trip to town so I decided to celebrate the re-opening of the bakery with this festive winter panzanella. Taylor and I invited a few close friends over and dined on this salad, sipped on some local wine and just enjoyed the simple flavors of winter produce. It’s nights like this that make the long and dark days of January more manageable.

This recipe is a lovely combination of tender butternut squash, sweet potatoes, crispy brussels spouts, chewy dates, walnuts, plenty of fresh parsley, toasted bread and a sweet maple balsamic dressing. A few healthy pinches of freshly grated parmesan cheese and viola! Winter just got a whole lot tastier!

Grab the ingredients for this tasty salad, call a few friends over for the occasion, crack open a bottle of good wine and enjoy.

Also, a huge THANK YOU to everyone for your sweet comments on our anniversary. We felt the love!

Winter Panzanella Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes    Cook Time: 40 minutes    Serves: 6

Roasted Vegetables:
  • 1 medium small butternut squash peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium sized sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 loaf of good quality crusty bread, sliced into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of fine sea salt
Balsamic Dressing:
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon dijon style mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss squash, sweet potato and brussels with oil, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on two prepared baking sheets and roast until fork tender and lightly browned on all sides. About 30-40 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
  2. Toss the bread with the fresh thyme, oil and salt. Place on a prepared baking sheet and toast in the 425F oven until golden on all sides. Roughly 10-12 minutes. Toss the bread halfway through toasting. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste test and adjust seasonings if need be.
  4. Assemble the salad by tossing the squash, sweet potato, brussels, bread, onion, parsley, dates and walnuts with the dressing. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and toss until evenly coated. Serve at room temperature.


*This salad is best served the day it's prepared. *Use this recipe as a guide and adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary. *Cooking times will vary depending on your ingredients and specific oven. *Taste test as you go. *Have fun in the kitchen

Leave a Reply

15 thoughts on “Winter Panzanella with Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette

  1. The same thing happened to me last week with one of our local bakeries, so I understand your disappointment. This is a panzanella I have to try. I love the dates, walnuts and Brussels sprout additions.

  2. Francesca says:

    ultimate cucina povera <3

  3. Gloria Endres says:

    Than you for your wonderful receipts. I love your site. Do you have an easy way top peel butter nut squash? I love it but avoid because it is so hard to peel the skin. Looking forward to hearing back from you. Thanks again for all you do toward healthy eating.
    Gloria Endres

    1. Andrea says:

      I just use a sharp chefs knife to “peel” it. It’s a lot easier and more efficient than a vegetable peeler. I cut the squash into sections as well so that it’s easier to manage each section for peeling. Also, if you can’t get all the skin off it’s okay because the skin is edible! I hope this was helpful and thank you for your comment.

  4. This is perfect Andrea. I think I’ll try a chopped salad version minus the bread and cheese for now. I’ll be back for the full version in a week or so, too!

  5. I feel the same way when my favourite farmer stands are missing from the markets! When they return I buy up way more apples than I probably need, but I just love their sundowners so much!
    This panzanella looks like an awesome dish to serve to friends and sit down at the table just talking the night away.

  6. Pauline says:

    If you put the squash in the microwave oven for a few minutes, you should not have any problems peeling the skin. It really makes it so much easier! My husband (who does the cooking!) did this on a whim and it worked beautifully!

    1. Andrea says:

      Thanks for the tip Pauline!

  7. This looks gorgeous! Yum!

  8. Christine says:

    Wow, this salad was insanely delicious! I made it for our family of 4, plus a guest, and everyone was raving. I love your website. So glad I found you (through barre3)!

    1. Andrea says:

      I’m so happy you loved it as much as we did! I’m glad Barre3 brought you to the blog. Happy cooking!

  9. I’m commenting again because I actually made this tonight and it was a hit!

    1. Andrea says:

      Awesome! I’m so happy you loved it. Thanks for the comment!!!

  10. Oh I love panzanella salad and your winter version with butternut squash and sweet potatoes is right up my alley! I’m also a beginning bread baker – I’m with you on supporting your favorite local bakery but learning to make it at home is also really fun 🙂

  11. Jennifer Essad says:

    lovely Rioja Rosados would be so fine with this meal, thanks for sharing

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