Spring Panzanella

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Two salads in a row… we know. We promise this is no ordinary salad. This past summer, we found the most amazing recipe for a summer panzanella salad from The First Mess that deliciously pairs sweet summer peaches and tomatoes. My mom, (Karen) grew up next to a peach orchard in Ohio, so she has instilled in me an appreciation for a tasty peach. As the resident authority, she has also taught me that a sub-par peach just won’t do. So patience is required for some of our favorite recipes. Yet, as our weather here started to warm up, we began to crave said panzanella. And we tend to do due diligence in listening to those cravings. The solution: an equally delicious spring version we created.

With spring comes a fresh crop of crisp, tender produce. We wanted to preserve that freshness in a substantial recipe. This made its first appearance at our Easter dinner, and thought it was an ideal spring recipe to share before the tomato and peach crops are ready! The egg and white beans provide a clean protein source. The egg yolk inevitably falls out of the hard-boiled egg, but adds a creamy component to the dressing, which is the perfect pairing to the crisp vegetables. Do not be tempted to substitute store bought croutons for this salad. Don’t even think about it. It’s super easy to toast your own and so worth it!

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Spring Panzanella:      6 servings

 

3-4 large hard boiled eggs, sliced

4 cups peasant bread croutons (recipe below)

2 pounds fat asparagus, blanched cut into bite sized pieces and chilled

6 cups mixed baby salad greens

1 cup golden sun-burst cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 bunch green scallions (about 8), thinly sliced

2 large red radishes, very thinly sliced

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons

½ teaspoon agave

1 t Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:   The salad components can be made in advance to allow for quick assembly for your meal.

For the croutons: preheat the oven to 350. Cube the bread and using your hands thoroughly toss with about 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional season with s & p). Spread bread on a baking sheet and bake until starting to crisp, about 12 minutes, turning half-way through. Cool on a rack until ready to use. *Tip: to re-crisp if croutons have set and softened a bit, just throw back in the oven for a few minutes!

Hard boil eggs ahead of time, peel and chill until ready to use.

Trim asparagus and blanch in salted water about 3 minutes (enough to remain crisp), plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process, drain and chill until ready to use.

For the dressing: In a small jar, combine the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of oil with the vinegar, agave, mustard; season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: In a large bowl, place the greens, asparagus, croutons, tomatoes, onion, and beans. Drizzle with the dressing and toss. Garnish with the radish and serve.

As always, enjoy!