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Spring Panzanella

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that usually pairs stale bread with juicy, peak season tomatoes. This version is a one-skillet reimagining of Smitten Kitchen's recipe for a springtime riff on the classic. Hold on to the dressing recipe - it's great on just about any green, pasta, or potato salad. 

Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Marjorie Simmons

Ingredients

Salad

  • 3 strips good quality bacon
  • 1 bunch leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 can cannelini or great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 loaf slightly stale bread, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

"Use on Everything" Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Snap tough ends off each asparagus stalk and slice tip into roughly 1 inch pieces. 

  2. Thinly slice leeks and rinse thoroughly to remove all grit. Drain and dry with a tea towel before cooking. 

  3. Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and set aside.

  4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the bacon until completely crispy, between 10-15 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain excess fat thoroughly

  5. Drain all but 1 tbsp of fat from the skillet, then saute garlic until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat until lightly toasted. Remove from skillet and spread out to retain crunchiness. 

  6. Add olive oil to the pan and cook the leeks until they begin to soften. Then toss in the asparagus and beans, and season to taste. Saute until asparagus is vibrant green and slightly softened, 3-5 minutes. 

  7. Crumble bacon, then combine with asparagus mixture and bread in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste, then toss to coat.