Fall Cornbread Panzanella Salad

I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year, and I don’t know about you, but I think it’s fun to add a more unique side to the mix of traditional fare usually served at a Thanksgiving feast.  I threw together this salad recently and all I could think while I was eating it is that it pretty much embodies “fall in a bowl.”  The jewel toned colors of the vegetables served warm over a bed of spinach and hearty cornbread is somehow both healthy and comforting at the same time.  I think it would be the perfect addition to your holiday table and could even serve as a stuffing substitute for the more health conscious diner.  Here’s to adding a little variety at your Thanksgiving table this year!

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This salad has three components that need to be made before assembling the salad.  Start by making a simple cornbread.  I’ve included a gluten free version in this recipe, but you could certainly make a regular version if you aren’t sensitive to gluten.   Let the cornbread cool and then cube it and toss it with a few tablespoons of oil.   Toast it in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or so.

The second component is a mixture of root vegetables, red onions and brussels sprouts that are roasted until caramelized.  Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the salad’s  vinaigrette.

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Once you have all the components, simply toss everything together with some gorgonzola cheese, sugared pecans and fresh spinach and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

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Fall Cornbread Panzanella Salad (adapted from Naturally Ella)

Ingredients:

CORNBREAD

1 1/4 c flour

3/4 c cornmeal

1/4 c sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 c buttermilk

1/4 c melted butter

1 egg

ROASTED VEGGIES

1 sweet potato

1 1/2 cups quartered brussels sprouts

1/2 medium red onion, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

SALAD
1/2 cup sugared pecans chopped
1 oz gorgonzola cheese
3 cups fresh spinach
DRESSING
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and sea salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, butter and buttermilk. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until batter is just combined. Pour into a greased 9″ square pan and bake until golden, about 20 min.  Allow to cool.  Cut cornbread into ½” cubes.  Toss with 2 tbsp oil and place on a cookie sheet. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and toast the cornbread for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  To roast vegetables, peel and cut sweet potatoes into ½” cubes. Toss with quartered brussels sprouts, onion, 1 tbsp oil, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and roast until vegetables are tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  Meanwhile, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup in a dressing carafe. Shake well until vinaigrette is combined.
  Toss roasted vegetables, toasted cornbread, spinach, pecans and gorgonzola cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing on top and toss to coat.
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Root Vegetable Soup

I’ve been wanting to share this soup recipe with you all since I started this blog.  But, seeing as we were entering the summer months at the time, it just didn’t seem appropriate.  I made this soup a few weeks ago for a friend and now seemed like the perfect time to finally share the recipe because 1) I’m starting to feel the need to wear my down coat (i.e. its dropping into the 40’s); 2) I made a fun spider web pattern on top of the soup out of half and half, which seemed particularly fitting given we just celebrated Halloween; and 3) it would be a great soup to make for any of the upcoming holidays

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This soup really is something special.  I’ve been making it for several years now and Fall just doesn’t seem complete until we’ve shared this meal together.  It is warm and spicy, hearty and satisfying, and packs more root veggies into one pot than I’ve seen in any other soup recipe.  It is also easily adaptable to be vegan and/or dairy free, making it a diet friendly option for most anyone.

This soup easily serves 20 people, so you can make it for a large crowd or freeze part of it for later.  Other than all the chopping, it’s also an easy soup to prepare.  I suggest serving it along with a fall salad (may I suggest apples, walnuts and gorgonzola over lettuce) and some crusty bread.

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Root Vegetable Soup (adapted from Taste of Home)

Ingredients

1 lb turkey or pork Italian sausage, optional

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled an cubed

1 large rutabaga, peeled and cubed

5 large carrots, peeled and cubed

1 medium turnip, peeled and diced

5 cups water

10 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1-2 tsp salt to taste

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 cup half and half or coconut milk

Directions

Crumble and brown sausage until no longer pink.  Set aside and drain of excess fat.  Stir in all the vegetables, water, broth and seasonings.  Bring the pot to a boil and reduce the heat.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.  Return 1/4 of the sausage to the pot and use and emersion blender to blend everything together until smooth.  Stir in the remaining sausage and half and half.