I’m back with yet another salad. And once again this salad is short on virtue because this salad is mostly bread and I’m not the least bit sorry about it. It is my ardent belief that carbs make you a kinder, gentler person. I have no science to back this up, just my own experience with carb-related hangriness. But whether it’s true or not, I do think this Green Panzanella Salad makes the world, or at least a picnic, a better place to be. It has a thick creamy dressing, eggs with jammy yet velvety yolks, roasted asparagus, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s at least 80% bread. And don’t worry, there’s cheese in there as well.
I have come to the conclusion that I am either very good or very bad at making salads. It all depends on your perspective. If you want to achieve the Hollywood ideal or fuel high-performance athletic activities, my salads are not the salads you’re looking for. But if you’re looking to eat something toe-curlingly delicious and maybe consume a few extra veggies along the way, I’m your girl. Vitamins are too important to not cover them in cheese.
It’s not that I have to choke veggies down. I do actually enjoy most vegetables, but I’m sorry, I struggle to feel the same level of excitement for roasted peppers as I do for fresh bread. My food priorities are decidedly skewed towards the cheese and bread side of things. But I do appreciate a fair amount of contrast alongside my daily carb of choice. So bitter greens, like the frisée in this Green Panzanella Salad, make frequent appearances in my diet.
The same goes for my daily cheese quota. Cheese on its own is not exactly stimulating. But when it partners up with a perfect foil, it’s impossible for me to say no. Tomato and fresh mozzarella, for instance, belong to each other. In fact, I think there is little point in enjoying one without the other. So naturally, you will find both heirloom tomatoes and bocconcini in this Green Panzanella Salad.
Avocado! Avocado is another fruit/vegetable that makes me exceptionally happy. So naturally, it has close to top billing in this salad. The avocado lends its body and creaminess to the dressing. Resulting in a thick, emphasis on “thick”, dressing that coats every nook and cranny of the salad. And not a drop of mayo or sour cream is involved. See? This Green Panzanella Salad is a little bit healthy. The dressing gets all its flavor from a quick but effective walnut pesto with dill and tarragon. It comes together in a food processor and it tastes like heaven tastes, I think/hope. I’m sure the pesto would be amazing on pasta as well, with or without the avocado.
There are a ton of other odds and ends in this Green Panzanella Salad that were added on a whim. I think this is what has been driving my later-in-life love affair with salad. You can really put anything you want in there. And as a deeply stubborn person who hates to be told what to do, I find that to be sensational. Oh! And if you’re desperate to eat and enjoy some leftover things you have in the fridge, a salad is a great vehicle for that.
I say all this to demonstrate that salads are choose-your-own-adventure deals. Everything I have written below is negotiable…except the bread. It wouldn’t be a Panzanella without the bread. Plus, why would you want to negotiate your way out of eating bread? But pretty much everything else can be swapped for whatever you’re feeling. But please, leave the dressing the way it is. It is bliss and you need to eat it. And the best part? The recipe below makes enough dressing for two huge salads. So you can eat salad twice in one week and not feel hard done by. And you get to tell people you ate salad for dinner twice in one week.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Green Panzanella Salad. It’s chock full of bread, cheese, and yeah, there’s a good amount of veg in there as well. And it’s very patio and rose compatible. Honestly, what more could you possibly ask of a salad?
Green Panzanella Salad with Roasted Asparagus
- 100g (3.5oz) chopped walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon tightly packed
- ¼ cup fresh dill tightly packed
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 lemon juiced
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup Grana Padano shredded
- 1 loaf multigrain ciabatta cut into 1" cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt divided
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus wooden ends removed, cut into thirds
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 1 head frisée torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 (200g, 7oz) tub bocconcini drained
- 100g (3.5oz) cup pitted green olives
- 125g (4.4oz) sugar snap peas
- 2 large heirloom tomatoes cut into wedges
- sage flowers for sprinkling, optional
For the Dressing
- Place the walnuts, garlic, tarragon, and dill in a large food processor. Blitz until the mixture resembles mulch.
- Add the salt and blitz again while streaming in the olive oil. When the pesto comes together, stop the food processor and add the avocado. Blitz again while streaming in the lemon juice and water. Blitz until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the Salad
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bread on a large baking sheet and drizzle it with half of the olive oil and sprinkle it with half of the salt. Set aside.
- On a separate baking sheet lined with parchment paper, arrange the asparagus in an even layer. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt.
- Transfer the bread and asparagus to the oven and roast for 15 minutes, rotating the pans once half-way through. Take both out of the oven and set them aside.
- While the asparagus and the bread are in the oven, boil the eggs. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, lower the eggs into the water and reduce the heat until the water reaches a spirited simmer.
- Cook the eggs for 7 minutes then take the pan off of the heat. Transfer the eggs to an ice bath and let sit for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes have passed, peel the eggs and cut them into quarters. Set them aside.
- In a large bowl place the toasted bread, frisée, asparagus, boccocini, green olives, and sugar snap peas. Pour half of the Avocado Pesto Dressing on top and toss to coat.
- Divide the salad amongst four bowls and top with egg and tomato slices and finish with a sprinkling of sage flowers, if using. Serve immediately.