Our baby has been sleeping through the night for the past week and I can’t even tell you what a difference this makes. Is this what is feels like to be normal again? It’s been so long, it’s almost like I forgot.
I’m waking up refreshed, with enough energy to exercise and work and aren’t relying on multiple cups of coffee to fuel my day. The crippling anxiety that plagued me before bed is also gone. No more stressing over how much sleep I would get that night, or worrying what time Vander would want to wake up and eat.
As much as I loved the newborn stage, this is good.
A little more sleep also makes me feel like I can tackle things again. Namely making dinner each night. I’ve been so inspired by the return of Spring produce that I can’t wait for 5 o’clock to roll around so I can get back in the kitchen and experiment.
I feel about asparagus in the spring the way I feel about tomatoes in the summer; the moment the season hits, I don’t want to eat a meal without them. How abouta spring-inspired panzanella salad then?
To keep the beautiful color and crisp flavor, I suggest blanching the asparagus first before adding to the salad. Not only does it preserve the vibrant green shade, it also prevents overcooked stalks.
To that I added pea shoots, torn mint leaves, feta and crispy bread croutons in a red-wine vinaigrette. A fresh, balanced and perfect salad for Spring.
Tips for Perfect Panzanella Salad
1. Vary the texture of your croutons
The difference between good and great panzanella salad comes down to the bread. I like to toss half of the croutons with dressing and let sit for 10 minutes; then add the rest of the croutons right before serving. This way they are at varying places of softness, which keeps things exciting.
2. Remove the crust before toasting.
I’m pretty sure the roof of my mouth is perfectly scarred; thanks to too-hot pizza and too-crusty croutons. The bread should be hard; it shouldn’t break your teeth. Therefore, I remove the outer crust before slicing into cubes and toasting.
3. Play with textures.
Have you noticed a theme yet? Perfect panzanella is a marriage of great texture. Croutons, tender asparagus, mint, creamy feta and pea shoots. Each bite grabs a little bit of everything. Unlike tomato panzanella, you’ll want to serve this one right away to take advantage.
If you are hosting a baby shower or bridal shower this Spring, I think this salad would be the perfect add-on. Or, enjoy it as a side dish or light lunch. It’s great paired with broccoli sandwiches, green goddess sandwiches, or carrot soup.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking!
Spring Panzanella Salad with Asparagus
Yield 6 servings
Spring Panzanella Salad! This asparagus and pea salad is so bright and delicious! You've gotta try it! Toasted bread croutons with steamed asparagus, pea shoots, feta and lots of mint.
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus
- 6 cups bread cubes (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup torn mint leaves
- 1 cup pea shoots
- 3 ounces feta cheese
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Blanch the asparagus. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; meanwhile, remove the woody ends from the asparagus and chop into 2" pieces. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.
- Add the asparagus into the boiling water and let boil for 1-2 minutes, just to soften and until they turn bright green. Add to the ice water bath and let cool, then drain and pat dry.
- Meanwhile, cube the bread and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes until just golden brown, taking care not to burn.
- Whisk together the shallots and rice wine vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes to take off some of the bite. Then, whisk in the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
- Toss 1/2 of the toasted bread cubes with 1/2 of the dressing and let soften for 10 minutes.
- Right before serving, toss the dressed bread cubes, asparagus, pea shoots, mint leaves, feta and remaining dressing in a large bowl until combined. Season to taste as needed with salt and pepper, then serve. I think this one tastes best right after tossing.
- For bread crumbs, I like to use day-old french or Italian bread. To prevent sharp corners that hurt your mouth, I cut off the crust of the bread, then use the inside as the crouton part. Tear or cut into cube sizes, then place on a baking sheet and let dry out in the oven.
Courses salad, healthy, vegetarian
Serving Size 1/6th recipe
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 19 g
Saturated Fat 5 g
Unsaturated Fat 13 g
Cholesterol 15 mg
Sodium 508 mg
Total Carbohydrates 38 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 10 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.