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Spring Asparagus Panzanella Salad

 Photo by Lauren Grant

Photo by Lauren Grant

Looking for an easy, yet celebratory salad to make this week? Our friend Lauren Grant of Zestful Kitchen has you covered. With fresh greens, toasted whole grain bread, and crunchy fennel, this Asparagus Panzanella Salad screams spring in every possible way. It's also a convenient and delicius way to reuse stale bread so it doesn't go to waste! Simple to throw together, and full of flavor, this salad is perfect for a weeknight dinner topped with an over easy egg, served alongside grilled fish, or packed up for a potluck or backyard get together. 

Lauren's Note: "This salad is best with good quality, seedy, multi-grain bakery bread and any bold green you can get your hands on. I love using a bitter green like arugula, mustard greens, or kale but spinach offers its own tender simplicity to this salad as well, which I used here. Otherwise, this panzanella salad is pretty simple, and sometimes those are the best kinds of recipes." 

Ingredients

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¾ tsp minced fresh garlic
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Salad:

  • 1 lb fresh Imperfect asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 c torn seedy whole-grain bread (staled)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c fresh spinach, arugula, or mustard greens, roughly chopped
  • ¾ c thinly sliced Imperfect fennel bulb
  • ½ c green onions, bias sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ c lightly packed parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, 2 Tbsp oil, Dijon, and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Blanch asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, immediately strain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Once asparagus is cool, drain.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium, add bread and toast until golden brown on all sides, 2–3 minutes.
  4. Add asparagus, toasted bread, beans, spinach, fennel, onions, and parsley to bowl with vinaigrette; toss to coat then transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fennel fronds and additional parsley, if desired.

Recipe Variations

A spring salad like this is a great home for your favorite crunchy raw veggies like rainbow carrots, cabbage, and radishes, but it's also a great place to incorporate roasted vegetable like bell peppers or beets. For extra texture contrast, try adding some crushed almonds or sesame seeds on top!