a winter panzanella, kind of…

I’ve been wanting to make a cooler weather version of one of my favorite salads for a while now. I love the inherent thriftiness of panzanellas (Italian bread salads). You start by cutting, or tearing, the bread into cubes, tossing them with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and toast them in a skillet on the stovetop. For this winter panzanella, I would trade the summer crops of tomatoes and basil for some of fall and winter’s favorites, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. I had a moment of genius when I realized I could save time, and buy them already roasted from the salad bar at Whole Foods.

When the moment struck, allowing me time to actually make one, I decided a few less carbs wouldn’t be a bad thing. So, yeah, essentially I made a hearty winter salad instead of a panzanella. I will admit, I missed the bread a little, knowing how wonderful toasted day old nubs of bread would’ve tasted after soaking up the citrusy dressing. The fact that I also had my favorite brown country bread from Praline made the temptation even harder to resist. I’m glad I listened to my body, though.

As the salad I’m sharing with you stands, it’s a bright beacon of flavors and nourishment during a month that’s filled with a lot of decadent eating. Adding the bread, for me at least, would’ve weighed it down more than I was in the mood for during lunch on the day I made it. I’ve not given up hope of turning it into a proper panzanella, though, and neither should you.

Some more wintery salads from In Jennie’s Kitchen

Cabbage, Apple & Toasted Sesame Salad

Kale Salad & Warm Shallot Vinaigrette

Warm Smashed Potato Salad

An Almost Winter Panzanella

Serves 2 to 4, as a main course or appetizer

I took a shortcut, and bought roasted Brussels sprouts and roasted sweet potato wedges (basically, the equivalent to a whole potato) from the salad bar at Whole Foods, so this salad comes together super fast. If you want to make it a main course, adding some cooked lentils would give it a protein boost, and turn it into a filling one bowl meal.

You’ll only need half the dressing for the salad as is, unless you’re feeding a crowd, and want to double the salad ingredients (keep the dressing proportions the same). Having this extra bit of dressing in the fridge gives me great satisfaction, knowing I’ve already gotten a jump on the next night’s dinner.

For the dressing:

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 clementine

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon (20 grams) honey

1/2 cup (125 ml) grape seed oil

1 tablespoon Dijon

Splash of white wine vinegar

For the salad:

5 Tuscan kale leaves, ribs removed & leaves cut into ribbons

1 cup (118 grams) roasted Brussels sprouts, cut in half

4 (227 grams) roasted sweet potato wedges, cut into pieces (see headnote)

1/2 Anjou pear, thinly sliced into half moons

Very small fennel bulb, thinly sliced

To Serve:

Sliced almonds

Shaved Grana Padano cheese

To make the dressing, combine the juices, salt, pepper, honey, oil, Dijon, and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk until well mixed; set aside.

In a deep bowl, add the kale, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pear, and fennel. Drizzle half of the dressing over the top (save the remaining for another meal). Toss to combine.

Spoon the salad onto a platter, or divide between individual dishes. Sprinkle almonds and cheese on top before serving.