Spring salads! I’ve made panzanella before (an Italian bread salad that has been manipulated to match every season and produce available) and it continues to be an amazing dish. Toasting up some bread, letting it soak up seasoned oil and mixing it with in season produce and a great dressing is perfect. I made this for the premiere of True Blood. “Soooo-kie” This recipe came from The Kitchen Sink blog.
- 3 large garlic clove
- 1/2 C plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 (12-inch) lengths of crusty baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes (12 cups)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 t. salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1 lb asparagus – cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3 T. balsamic vinegar
- 3 T capers (packed in brine), rinsed and drained
- 1/2 t. sugar
- 1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 lb lightly salted fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/3-inch dice
- 3/4 C. chopped fresh basil
Mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt using a large heavy knife, then transfer to a small bowl and add 1/2 cup olive oil in a slow stream, whisking until combined well. Put bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle with 3 tablespoons garlic oil, tossing to combine, then put onto 1 shallow baking pan, arranging in 1 layer. Toast in oven at 425, stirring once or twice, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Leave oven on.
Toss asparagus in same bowl with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, then arrange in 1 layer in another large shallow baking pan. Roast asparagus until just tender and browned in spots, 12 to 16 minutes. Cool vegetables in pans until ready to assemble salad.
While vegetables roast, add vinegar to remaining garlic oil along with capers, sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and whisk to combine well.
Put asparagus, tomatoes, toasted bread, beans, mozzarella, and basil in a large bowl, then drizzle with dressing and stir to combine well. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to develop, then stir just before serving.
Notes: YUM! This could be served as a main dish as it does have protein (garbanzo beans). But I think it’s probably best of a summer picknick or as a side dish.
Servings: SO MUCH. 4 big side dishes plus 4 extra servings.