Fall Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons

"That screams fall," said my roommate after taking one bite. It sure does and now I pretty much want to eat it every day in the coming season. 

If you aren't familiar, a panzanella salad is local to Italy, made of bread and tomatoes, sometimes onions and basil, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Panzanella now comes in many shapes and forms. For instance, this recipe uses cornbread as the bread component. I have a soft spot for cornbread. My family makes a basic cornbread that we put with just about every soup, stew, and chili we make. But pumpkin cornbread, I can't. I'm SOLD!

I love the layers of flavors and textures and temperatures in this salad. Warm roasted fall veggies, cold crisp apple and toasty pumpkin cornbread all with a maple vinaigrette. It's dense enough to have for dinner, but excellent for lunch too. 

A cornbread mix will totally suffice in this recipe since you are making them into croutons. If you can find a pumpkin cornbread mix-buy it, if you can't-make one, or just use regular cornbread. It will still be delish!

Fall Panzanella Salad with Pumpkin Cornbread Croutons adapted from Purely Elizabeth
serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish*

2 cups butternut squash, diced into 1/2 in. size pieces
2 cups brussels sprouts, quartered
1 medium red onion, chopped into small wedges
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 honey crisp apple
2 cups pumpkin cornbread, diced into 1/2 in. size pieces **see note
10 oz bag tuscan kale

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Chop butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and onion. Place veggies in columns on a foil lined roasting sheet. Drizzle olive oil over veggies. Season everything with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cinnamon over only the butternut squash. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender, stirring halfway though.

In the meantime, cut your cornbread into 1/2 pieces and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Once the veggies are done, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and toast the cornbread for 10-15 minutes until the edges are crispy.

In a small mason jar or bowl combine dressing ingredients. Chop the honey crisp apple into a medium dice. 

To assemble; put kale in a large salad bowl. Top with roasted veggies, apple, croutons and drizzle with dressing. Toss and serve. 

*Single girl serving: Have all the components ready to go, but only toss one serving with the dressing. Keep everything else in the fridge to pull out each night for dinner. Store the veggies in the fridge and reheat, only cut part of the apple you are going to use and store the croutons wrapped in foil sitting out on the counter.

**Note: I used this pumpkin cornbread mix which is sadly now discontinued, but this recipe minus the pecans or this recipe are great. Regular cornbread would work too. Save the time and use a mix. You shush 'em up when you toast them anyway!

I kid you not when I say I have genuinely gotten so excited for dinner knowing I have this waiting for me. It's got it all going on.