One of our goals this spring has been to eat enough asparagus that we won’t miss it when it is no longer in season. And, so far, so good. Normally I’d be horrified to find asparagus-gone-bad in the back of the veggie drawer. However, yesterday I was a bit relieved that the asparagus I discovered while cleaning the fridge was too far gone to prepare and eat. I can say for the first time in my life that I am tired of asparagus. And that is when I knew we had achieved our goal, though I still felt bad for wasting food, which I hate.
Panzanella is a simple Tuscan salad traditionally made with chunks of bread tossed with tomatoes, basil, onion, and sometimes oil and vinegar. Obviously panzanella now takes many forms and appearances across the world but the key is the bread, as it is known as bread salad. If you want to read more about the history of panzanella (or if you want to humor me) check out Andra’s post on her blog Mint&Rosemary.
This spring panzanella is a fresh and delicious way to showcase that bundle of local asparagus in your fridge. The asparagus is prepared simply- just steamed and dusted with a little salt to show off its natural flavor.
If I haven’t yet convinced you to try this salad, did you notice the creamy bites of burrata or the gorgeous and crunchy slices of watermelon radish? And, at the end of the day, you can say you ate salad for dinner but at the same time get your fix of bread and cheese. Oh, and I did I mention you can substitute bacon for the prosciutto if you are feeling a little
SPRING PANZANELLA WITH ASPARAGUS AND BURRATA
inspired by Mike Lata’s recipe on Food&Wine
yields two large salads
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
10 ounces asparagus
8 ounces English peas, unshelled*
1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced
2.5-3 ounces fresh greens (I used a blend of baby kale, mizuna, arugula, and radicchio)
8 ounces burrata
2 ounces prosciutto (vegetarian substitute: sun-dried tomatoes)
shallot and mustard dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (1 very large lemon or 2 small ones)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
salt and pepper to taste
Place two eggs in a small pot of cold water and bring to a simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and put eggs in a bowl of ice water. Set aside
While the eggs are simmering, make your dressing by whisking all ingredients together. Set aside.
Cut baguette into one to two inch cubes (crust free for softer croutons). Toss with olive oil in a medium bowl and spread on an edged baking sheet. Lightly salt croutons and bake at 350 for 12 minutes, until light golden brown. If your baguette is already slightly dried out, check on the croutons after baking for 5-6 minutes (they won’t need the full 12 minutes).
Meanwhile, shell the peas and trim the asparagus (if you are substituting snow peas or snap peas see the note below**). In a covered skillet, steam asparagus and peas with 2 tablespoons water over medium high for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, lightly salt, and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, toss together greens, peas, croutons, radish slices, and prosciutto. Divide into two individual bowls (I use my large soup bowls). Lay asparagus over the top or set along the side. Shell and slice the eggs and place one egg on top of each salad. Chop the burrata into large chunks and sprinkle it evenly on top of the two salads. Add dressing to taste.
* can substitute regular green peas or whole snow peas or snap peas
**if using snow or snap peas I do not steam them, I just rinse, trim the ends, and add to the salad fresh/raw
Final note: Roasted asparagus works well in this salad too if you prefer