Winter Panzanella with Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables, pickled carrots, oranges, garlicky croutons and fresh mozzarella make up this winter panzanella perfect for when summery tomatoes are out of season.

it’s always a good time for panzanella. i’ve only had it during the summer, when there’s plenty of juicy, unbelievable sweet heirloom tomatoes snagged during the last 10 minutes of the farmers’ market for only a couple of bucks. cubed tomato, torn fresh mozzarella, ribbons of basil, garlic croutons, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and you have dinner. but it’s winter, and the tomatoes are long gone from the farmers’ market, the supermarket ones pale and mealy. winter panzanella with roasted vegetables, anybody?

the beets make everything red, making it seem like you spent 2+ hours of work on a salad (this much time and energy and it’s not even a gorgeous dessert and there’s vegetables involved??) and all you got was a bowl of vegetables that look like they spent the day with a serial murderer.

but this winter panzanella is so tasty, i swear it’s worth it. it’s sweet, though in different ways- the beets bring a candied sweetness, the squash a gentle vegetal sweetness, the orange supremes a sweet/tart/citrusy sweetness and the fennel a caramelized onion-esque sweetness. these flavors get balanced by earthy mushrooms, tangy pickled carrots, garlicky croutons. and all that gets smoothed over, gentled, by the creaminess of fresh mozzarella (and/or avocado, but i didn’t add that to my bowl). and in case you’re a texture person, have no fear- the roasted vegetables are tender but not baked into submission, the carrots still have raw crunch, and the croutons are soft and nowhere near mushy (i’d be the first person to leave if they were).

Winter Panzanella with Roasted Vegetables
inspired by My New Roots

I like to add the mozzarella at the end, because I find that it’s not as creamy and silky when it sits in the dressing. The avocado is also best added last minute so that it doesn’t get broken up into the salad (or you can add it earlier and have it coat everything else a bit).

2 carrots, peeled and chopped
white vinegar and granulated sugar for pickling the carrots
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
4-5 small beets, peeled and sliced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved/quartered depending on size

6 crusty dinner rolls or 1/3 medium loaf ciabatta, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar
4-6 oz fresh mozzarella, diced and/or 1 avocado, sliced for serving

  1. Toss the carrots, vinegar and sugar (I like to do a glug of vinegar, a spoonful of sugar, and a bit of water). Let marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Separately toss each vegetable (fennel, beets, squash, mushrooms) with olive oil and salt, then spread them on baking sheets in a single layer (try to group the squash and beets together, and the fennel and mushrooms together; they have similar cooking times). Roast at 400F until fork-tender and slightly crisped, browned. This is to your taste/patience; I roasted the mushrooms for 25 minutes, the fennel for 30 minutes, the squash and beet for 50 minutes, though my oven is a bit cool.
  3. Toss the bread and garlic with some oil and salt, then spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar until emulsified. If you really want it emulsified, you can add an egg yolk or some mustard, but if you don’t care, leave it. Adjust to taste; I like a fairly acidic dressing, so I might add more vinegar. I’d also add salt and pepper at this point.
  5. Add the bread to the dressing and toss until the bread is coated; this makes sure that the bread has plenty of dressing to soak up. If you find that it’s a bit dry, add a glug or so of olive oil. Add the roasted vegetables and pickled carrots (fish them out of the brine with a fork), and toss. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or until the bread has softened. Top the winter panzanella with the mozzarella and avocado, then serve.

8 Comment

  1. This looks delicious! Those colors are amazing!

    1. thanks! the colors make it a little easier to get through the winter without summer produce (;

  2. This looks really unique. I can't say that I've ever had panzanella, but I want to try it now. These flavors work so well together. 🙂

    1. if you’re one of those people who just wants more croutons, or perhaps you aren’t into lettuce and you’d rather have other vegetables, this one is for you (:

  3. I've never had panzanella either, but this salad looks SO good! I've do love lettuce, but I love trying salads without lettuce, too. I always feel they're a little more filling, and have more creativity behind them! Also, I love putting roasted veggies into a salad! So good… going to have to try this one 🙂 Thanks for sharing it!

    1. glad you’re so excited! you can definitely add lettuce if you want; it’s an anything goes sort of salad (:

  4. I can definitely see myself eating this dish every day! Great one, Heather!

    1. i love panzanella (i mean garlic croutons, yes yes yes!), and this is one of my favorites with all the great winter veggies (:

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