This filling winter panzanella salad features roasted root vegetables and an addictive, creamy shallot dressing.

A few small plates are topped with a colorful, hearty winter panzanella salad.

I’ve always loved the idea of panzanella salad. It combines two of my favorite things: salad and bread!

I tend to think of panzanella as being a summer dish. And traditionally, it is. It’s usually made with juicy tomatoes, and often with cucumber and basil as well.

I’ve made many summery panzanellas, some more traditional than others. My cornbread panzanella features the traditional tomatoes and cucumbers. But the bread is cornbread, not sourdough or peasant bread, which gives the salad an especially hearty texture.

I’ve also made a non-traditional white bean avocado panzanella. It’s mild, refreshing, and very spring-y.

But, as this winter panzanella salad demonstrates, greens and bread go beautifully with all sorts of seasonal produce.

This is the ultimate winter panzanella, a hearty mixture of sweet and savory roasted root veggies, peppery greens, a creamy roasted shallot vinaigrette, and those characteristic bites of bread.

Building a winter panzanella salad

Go seasonal

I change up my meal-sized salad routine in the winter months. My favorite dressings and flavor combinations are often the same. However, I’m more likely to build a salad around grains and root vegetables than I would be in the summer, when I put produce at front and center.

I didn’t used to eat with the seasons as closely as I do now. But I’ve been trying to align my food choices with the rhythm of the season more and more. It allows me to support local agriculture, and it feels good to (and tastes better) to eat what’s fresh.

This winter panzanella salad is proof that winter produce, in spite of being limited, is loaded with goodness. It uses:

  • rutabaga
  • beets
  • carrots
  • parsnips
  • shallots
  • greens

Pick a bold salad green

I recommend using a peppery or spicy green for the salad if you can. A green with personality, like arugula, mizuna, or baby kale, can stand up to the root veggies and the flavorful shallot dressing. For something milder, mache would also be nice, too.

Feature filling, hearty root vegetables

The root vegetables add not only flavor and nutrition, but also heft. They’re more filling than cucumbers and tomatoes, which makes this salad appropriate for winter (and the comfort food cravings that it brings).

I chose my favorite root vegetables for this dish: parsnips, rutabaga (which I love), carrots, and golden beets. You can swap any one of these with sweet potato, turnip, celery root, or sunchokes. Mix it up, incorporate color, and be creative!

I cook with root vegetables so often in the colder months. A few of my other favorite, root vegetable-centric meals:

An angled photo of small salad plates, topped with roasted root vegetables, greens, and cubed bread.

The best creamy shallot dressing

The creamy shallot dressing in this winter panzanella salads has become one of my favorite dressings. With or without the salad I created it for!

To save some time, you roast the shallots that go into the dressing along with all of the roots. Once the vegetables are ready, pull the shallots off of the roasting pan and blend them with remaining dressing ingredients.

If you don’t have shallots at home, you could roast a whole head of garlic while the vegetables are in the oven. Then, you could replace the shallots with garlic (it’ll be similar to the garlicky dressing in this three bean salad).

The creamy roasted shallot dressing will be great on all sorts of other salads, too. I’d love to try it on my festive kale salad with cranberries, lentils, and coconut bacon, my red quinoa salad with hazelnuts, fennel, and baked tofu, or my roasted carrot and avocado salad.

The dressing can be made up to three or even four days ahead of mixing the salad. It keeps for up to five days in an airtight container in the fridge!

Best bread for panzanella salad

Honestly? I think the best bread for this winter panzanella salad is a bread you really love.

I love a peasant bread or pain au levain/sourdough in this salad. I’ve also made it with toasted ciabatta, a whole grain miche, and a Tuscan round.

But really, the point of panzanella is to use up bread that’s just going stale. So, you can and should use what needs eating! I like using up the butts of my classic sandwich bread and multigrain bread.

A round bowl containing the colorful ingredients of a wintertime salad, including greens, carrots, parsnips, and beets.
A few small plates are topped with a colorful, hearty winter panzanella salad.
5 from 2 votes

Winter Panzanella Salad

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium sized rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 golden or red beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large (or 3 small) shallots
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons crushed thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups (heaping) dark salad greens, such as arugula, baby kale, or mizuna
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (substitute white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups toasted bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about half of 1 small boule)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400. Place the carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, beets, and shallots in a large mixing bowl. Toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil, the maple syrup, the coarse salt, and a generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Place the vegetables on one or two parchment or foil-lined baking sheets. Roast for 35-45 minutes, stirring a few times during roasting to prevent burning or sticking, until the vegetables are golden and tender.
  • After roasting, separate the shallots from the rest of the vegetables. Place the shallots in a blender with the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar, the mustard, the sea salt, and another pinch of black pepper. Blend till smooth (a few specks of visible shallot is fine!).
  • Place the roasted vegetables, greens, and bread into a serving bowl. Toss with the shallot dressing. Season as needed with extra salt and pepper. Serve.

Notes

Leftover salad will keep overnight in an airtight container in the fridge.
A round bowl, piled with the ingredients for a plant-based winter panzanella salad.

I recently read that this is the “sad” time of year for cooking. This sentiment makes sense, of course. Winter can’t compare to the lush summer months and farmer’s markets bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables.

But I love winter from a culinary standpoint: the embrace of comfort food, the ingenuity of pantry cooking, and the abundance of root veggies. This salad is a perfect way to celebrate winter’s bounty. And as far as salads go, it’s a really satisfying one to eat.

I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

xo

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Recipe Rating




    7 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    You can never go wrong with carrots and greens. Awesome recipe! You can find me on IG @heatherwhite_lv or healthyheatherblog.wordpress.com

  2. Gena, you’ve included three of my favourite things in this dish – greens, roasted roots and bread. And the photos are beautiful! Well done. I can’t wait to try it. xo