Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that's traditionally made in the Summer with day old bread, tomatoes, and basil. However, I love this salad and I make it year-round. So does Michael Chiarello, apparently, because he's got recipes for Spring and Winter panzanellas that incorporate seasonal ingredients.
Over the weekend I was invited to a picnic and decided it was the ideal time to experiment with his Spring version. It combines fresh peas, asparagus, basil, and green beans with croutons, radicchio, spinach, and ricotta cheese. This salad is spectacular!
It's full of interesting textures, from the crunch of the croutons to the crumble of the cheese. It's packed with tons of different flavors: earthy asparagus, aromatic basil, salty cheese. Spring panzanella is not only awesome at a picnic, but it's a welcome addition to a Memorial Day barbecue menu. Check out the method now.
2 bunches medium asparagus Serves 10. Panzanella Croutons: 1/2 cup unsalted butter Makes about 4 cups.
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Panzanella Croutons, recipe follows
1 cups fresh or frozen English peas, boiled until tender and drained
1 cup thinly sliced green onion or spring onion
1/2 head radicchio, ribbon-cut, soaked, drained, and dried
2 cup whole baby spinach leaves or arugula
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided
Wedge ricotta salata cheese
1 large loaf Italian batard, ripped into small bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 bunches medium asparagus
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Makes about 4 cups.