Spring Panzanella Salad
Looking for a spring salad recipe? Combine asparagus, peas, and greens with crunchy homemade croutons to create this vibrant spring panzanella salad.
A Delicious Spring Salad Recipe
Panzanella salad uses up old bread by combining it with fresh seasonal ingredients. Bread cubes are oven roasted with garlic and dried basil, and combined with asparagus, peas, greens. Top it off with feta cheese and add za-atar blend to the mix for a middle eastern twist. The key to this salad is delicious croutons (don’t worry, instructions are included in the recipe below), and making sure to add enough acid to make the flavors of the salad really sing. The acid in this salad comes from white wine vinegar and a topping of feta cheese at the end.
What is Artisan Bread?
Artisan bread is made by hand and is often naturally leavened, meaning it contains no added yeast. There are a handful of wonderful artisan bakers in our town, and I support their businesses whenever I can. Artisan bread contains no preservatives typically, so dries out faster than store-bought breads containing chemical preservatives. I personally don’t mind a piece of toast from a 2-3 day-old loaf of artisan bread, but there are also other “beyond toast” ways to use up dry bread, such as this spring salad recipe.
Other Ways to Use Old Bread
Making croutons, like in this salad, is one of my favorite ways to use up old bread, but it can also be made into bread crumbs and used in muhammara, or a few slices can be used in Turkish chicken salad. To make bread crumbs, simply dry out cubes of bread in the oven at 300 degrees F for 10-15 minutes (how long will depend on how dry the bread is). After cooling, run in a food processor until you have crumbs!
For the Croutons
- 1/2 loaf artisan bread
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
For the Salad
- 1-2 bunches asparagus
- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil + 2 teaspoons, divided
- 1 shallot
- 3 cups baby salad greens (arugula or spinach work well)
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen (if frozen defrost 1st)
- 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon za-atar spice blend
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
To Make Croutons
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. You should have about 8 cups of bread cubes. Coat with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic, salt, and basil, and place in oven 10-15 minutes. Cooking time will depend on how dry bread was to begin with. Flip cubes once during baking. Pull out of the oven and let cool.
For the Salad
- Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and trim off the tough ends. Coat with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and slide into the oven with the bread crumbs. Cook 10 minutes, until just about soft. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Peel shallot and cut about 10 really thin slices. Place into a large salad bowl, along with baby salad greens and peas. Once the asparagus has cooled, cut into 2-inch pieces and add to the salad bowl. Add cooled croutons to the bowl too.
- Sprinkle vinegar over the top of the salad and add za-atar spice. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil, one at a time, tasting after each addition. Finish with crumbled feta cheese.