Saturday, June 23, 2012

early summer panzanella.

this panzanella is exactly what spring's transition to summer calls for: a final chance to make use of those last bright green asparagus spears and a perfect potluck contribution. start by purchasing one too many baguettes. let the bread sit out overnight, uncovered. in the morning you'll have no other choice but to saw your bread knife through it and turn it into crusty, garlicky croutons. 

i love the mix of textures in this salad, from the soft chard leaves to the crunchy edamame and salty almonds. it makes a great main course for two or a side dish for four. you can also easily liven up any leftovers the next day by tossing in a few extra handfuls of uncooked spinach or other salad greens.

early summer panzanella
a muffins on sunday original

for the croutons:
4 cups day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cloves garlic, minced
a couple of pinches salt
a couple of grinds pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
10 yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

for the salad:
4 green onions, white and green parts, roughly chopped

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch segments

6 baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch chard of your choice, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh edamame

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

for the grand finale:
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup marcona almonds, toasted

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

start by making the croutons. preheat the oven to 350F. in a large bowl, toss the bread cubes and halved tomatoes with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. they should be slightly browned around the edges but still soft (for soaking up juices!), and the tomatoes should be a little wrinkled. set aside to cool. once cool, place in a large serving bowl.

ohop the onions, asparagus, and mushrooms and place in a small bowl. stem and all, chop the chard very finely and set aside.

in a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. toss in the onions, asparagus, mushrooms, and a pinch of salt. give a quick toss and let them sear on one side for 1 minute. give another toss. when they are looking almost done, add in the chard, a handful at a time. when that’s all just cooked down, throw in the edamame and one generous pinch of salt. toss to combine, then pour the contents into the serving bowl with the bread.

add in the finely chopped herbs and toasted almonds. toss to combine, and let cool for about a half hour before serving. right before serving, drizzle in a little balsamic vinegar, and give it a quick stir to coat. enjoy!