Spring Panzanella Salad

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

Dinner | April 30, 2018 | By

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes and other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

Turns out stale bread isn’t just for feeding the birds. It’s actually just the kind of bread you need for panzanella salad including Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden toasted bread cubes, fresh seasonal vegetables and shaved parmesan cheese, flavored with an easy homemade vinaigrette.

The first time I tasted Ina Garten’s panzanella salad recipe was about 10 years ago at a book club meeting and I’ve made it many times since.  Ina’s recipe was a jumping point for this Spring Panzanella Salad. To bring a bright, spring flavor I added fresh asparagus and some artichokes, swapped out her French bread for a hearty multigrain for texture and even more flavor and shaved some parmesan cheese into the salad for zest.

Bread and cheese ~ whatever the question, it’s always the answer.
Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

I have no shame admitting the lightly toasted, golden cubes of bread are my favorite part of this salad. But a good amount of seasonal veggies, dressed in a homemade vinaigrette brings it all home. This salad goes halfsies with comfort and healthy.

I usually save panzanella salad for the height of our tomato season in August when I’m practically giving tomatoes away, but once the idea got into my head for a Spring Panzanella Salad, I couldn’t let it go. Fresh peas would be delicious in this recipe, too. Next time.

My neighbor loves this salad too so I usually pass a container of it along to her. She bakes really well and when I see her coming across the yard I know I’m in for a treat. Nobody loses around here.

Like many of my recipes, this one is easily customizable with your favorite vegetables or what’s in season. You can go heavier on the veggies, lighter on the bread if you like; fresh artichokes instead of canned. This salad is your oyster. So to speak.

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

Spring Panzanella Salad Ingredients:

  • 3 cups bread cubes cut 1″ each (multigrain used)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • 6-8 stalks of asparagus, ends removed, cut in thirds
  • 10 large Basil leaves
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half 
  • 3 tablespoons capers drained
  • 14 ounce container artichoke hearts drained and quartered
  • 1 ½ cups English cucumber unpeeled, seeded and chopped ½” thick
  • ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup bell peppers chopped (red, yellow OR orange OR a combination)

Dressing:

  • 1 clove of garlic, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Day old bread is recommended for panzanella salad, but we don’t usually have day old bread lying around our house. We eat what we want fresh and freeze what’s left.

Tip: To create ‘day old’ bread, cube fresh bread and spread it on a baking sheet on the counter for an hour or two. This also helps the bread toast easier (see more instructions below).

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the bread into about 1” bite size cubes then spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the bread, season it with salt and garlic powder and gently toss until the bread is coated.

Bake the bread cubes 10-15 minutes or until they’re dried out and lightly browned, then cool completely.

Meanwhile, add a drizzle of olive oil to a large skillet and sauté the asparagus 2-4 minutes until they’re fork tender, without overcooking them then transfer them to a large bowl to cool (cooking time will vary a little depending upon the diameter of the stalks).

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

Add the dressing ingredients ~ grated garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to a Mason jar or other container with a good seal then shake it for a few seconds until it’s thoroughly blended.

Add the basil, tomatoes, capers, artichokes, cucumber, red onion and bell pepper to the bowl with the asparagus. Gently combine everything then fold in the bread cubes, give the dressing another good shake (you’ll see in the photos it separated in the jar) and pour it over the top, stirring until everything is coated.

Note: Last minute I found some pine nuts and decided to add them to the salad. They’re optional but add great texture.

Give it the salad a good seasoning of salt and pepper then cover and let it sit for 30 minutes before serving to help the flavors come together.

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

I can easily make a meal out of just this salad but if you want to add protein, grilled shrimp or flank steak would be really delicious with it. Just look at all the beautiful color ~ I’d love to hear how you like this salad. You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see what else is going on in my kitchen.

Enjoy!

Spring Panzanella Salad ~ golden, toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes + other seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.

Spring Panzanella Salad
Golden toasted whole grain bread cubes, fresh asparagus, tomatoes, artichokes and lots of seasonal vegetables lightly dressed in an easy homemade red wine vinaigrette.
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Italian Bread Salad, Panzanella Salad
Servings: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups bread cubes cut 1″ each multigrain used
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 6-8 stalks asparagus ends removed, cut in thirds
  • 10 large Basil leaves chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons capers drained
  • 14 ounce container artichoke hearts drained and quartered
  • 1 ½ cups English cucumber unpeeled seeded and chopped ½” thick
  • ¼ cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup bell peppers chopped red, yellow OR orange OR a combination
Dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup pine nuts optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the bread into 1” cubes then spread them  out on a rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top of the bread, season with salt and garlic powder and gently toss.

  3. Bake the bread cubes 10-15 minutes or until they’re dried out and lightly browned then cool completely.
  4. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and sauté the asparagus 2-4 minutes until they’re fork tender, without overcooking them then transfer them to a large bowl to cool. Note: cooking time will vary a little depending upon the diameter of the stalks.

  5. Add the dressing ingredients ~ grated garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to a Mason jar or other sealable container then shake for a few seconds to combine.

  6. In the large bowl with the asparagus add the basil, tomatoes, capers, artichokes, cucumber, red onion and bell pepper. Gently combine then fold in the bread cubes, give the dressing another good shake and pour it over the top, stirring until everything is coated.

  7. Season the salad with salt and pepper then cover and let it sit for 30 minutes before serving. 

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