You guys, it’s time to celebrate: I have a new computer! It can do crazy things like browse the internet and check email without freezing! I can’t guarantee that this new development will have me blogging more, although it certainly can’t hurt—it’s now possible for me to make it through a post without (a) resorting to reading a magazine while the computer works through its issues, or (b) cursing violently.
Also, while we’re celebrating, let’s celebrate spring! And fresh green vegetables! And the carby beauty that is bread! A perfect way to celebrate whatever vegetables are in season is with panzanella (this winter one is one of my very favorite dishes ever)—essentially a hearty salad with toasty homemade croutons. The vegetables are lovely, but the real prize here is the croutons, tossed with olive oil and parmesan and garlic. Can you blame me if they don’t all make it into the salad?
Because I don’t want to stop the celebrating, let’s ignore that there was no asparagus at the farmers’ market and that the peas came from the freezer. I’m sure the party can continue all spring long.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
For the croutons:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the vinaigrette:
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
For the salad:
1 bunch arugula
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces
1 19-ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Mix the bread cubes with the garlic, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper on baking sheet. Toss to coat well. Bake, stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together and set aside.
Place asparagus pieces in a medium bowl. Boil about 2 cups water—enough to cover the asparagus in the bowl—and pour over asparagus. Let sit until asparagus is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until asparagus is cool to the touch.
Toss asparagus with peas and arugula and season with salt and pepper. Add croutons and dressing, and toss to coat. For ideal leftovers, keep croutons, dressing, and vegetables separate; combine just before serving.