Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

When looking for holiday recipes earlier last month, I came across this beautiful butternut adorned recipe from Cookie + Kate. I was seeking a veggie-centered side to bring to Thanksgiving. This one quickly made the cut.

Tossed with festive cranberries and a light, yet savory vinaigrette, this kale salad is the kind of side you want on your celebratory table. Among heavier eats, it continues to shine on its own. Yet, it won’t weigh you down even if it persuades you to go in for seconds.

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

I offer this up now as a suggestion for the celebrations that remain as we ring out 2015. If you’re in charge of the salad for dinner, why not reach for something new?

Creamy squash. Crunchy pumpkin seeds. Chewy, sweet and sour cranberries. Flaky parm. And a hearty kale leaf at its center.

With so many layers and textures in one bowl, this is a salad destined for discussion.
Pumpkin seeds

Those layers also make this salad one that could satisfy you if eaten for dinner on its own. There are those rare days where I crave just a salad in my bowl and nothing else. This particularly applies after one too many hefty holiday meals.

In those instances, a simple spring green medley isn’t going to appease my palette. But this creation would.

If you don’t get around to putting this recipe on your holiday list, save it as a start for 2016. It has all the nourishing elements you need to fulfill any sort of healthy eating oriented goals. You could also throw some chickpeas or salmon on top for an extra oomph if salad-for-dinner makes you nervous.

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

Have other veggie-centered suggestions for the holidays? Shoot them my way. I’m always looking for ideas!

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

Yield: 3-4 meal-sized salads, or 8 sides

Recipe from Cookie + Kate


  • For the roasted butternut squash:
  • 1 med. butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled and sliced into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1-2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • For the toasted croutons and seeds:
  • 1 small loaf (about ½ pound) crusty whole grain bread, sliced into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 Tbsp. seeds, such as pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • For the balsamic vinaigrette:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ? tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • For the kale salad:
  • 1 lg. bunch of Tuscan kale or regular curly kale, ribs removed and chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
  • ? cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced super thin


  1. Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper for easier cleanup (I used one large half-sheet for the butternut and a smaller quarter-sheet for the croutons).
  2. Roast the squash: On one of your lined baking sheets, toss the cubed butternut in enough olive oil to lightly coat all sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and arrange the butternut in a single layer. Roast on the lower third rack until the butternut is tender throughout and caramelized on the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes, tossing at the 20 minute mark when you add the croutons during step 4.
  3. Prepare the croutons: On your other baking sheet, combine the cubed bread with the seeds and salt. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to lightly coat the bread. Don't worry about trying to get the seeds to stick to the bread, just try to make sure they're lightly coated in oil. Arrange the mixture in a single layer so no croutons are on top of one another.
  4. Once you have tossed the butternut and placed it back on the lower rack, place the sheet of croutons on the upper rack. Toast the bread for 10 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden. Remove the croutons from the oven and check the squash—it will probably need 5 to 10 more minutes before the edges are caramelized. Once the butternut is done, remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool.
  5. To prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients until emulsified.
  6. To prepare the kale: Transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Sprinkle a small pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands by lightly scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  7. Final assembly: Add the grated cheese, cranberries and shallot to the bowl. Drizzle enough dressing into the bowl to lightly coat the leaves (you might not need all of it), then toss to coat. Add the roasted butternut and croutons and gently toss to combine. Drizzle in extra dressing if the salad seems like it needs it. For best flavor, let the salad rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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