asparagus and feta panzanella salad

asparagus and feta panzanella salad

This asparagus and feta panzanella salad is a delicious summer dish with a twist of Persian inspiration. Panzanella, an Italian dish by origin, is a great way to utilize stale bread lurking in your kitchen. Some recipes call for toasting the bread or making a separate vinaigrette but my recipe requires no such fuss and can be thrown together in no time.

asparagus and feta panzanella salad

As much as I love to eat salads, I don’t love making them. If I’m going to spend time in the kitchen I’d rather braise meat or bake a cake. Mostly because I’ll get to eat braised meat or delicious cake! However, doing the adult thing means eating more vegetables so here we are.

Finally bending to my husband’s requests, I’ve made it my personal mission to make more vegetable based dishes. Just last week I made zucchini gratin and today I’m introducing panzanella salad made with blanched asparagus (hello extra veggies) and feta cheese!

The lemon and olive oil dressing in this salad is based on my childhood favorite, Salad Shirazi. Salad Shirazi is a foundational Iranian salad made with cucumbers and tomatoes, dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil. One of the characteristics of shirazi salad is that the vegetables release a lot of liquid. This doesn’t bother me and it’s pretty much a staple of the dish. In fact, all this extra liquid works beautifully in panzanella salad because it moistens the bread and adds extra flavor.

This salad is a lovely way to round out a summer menu. You can also add an egg or bits of rotisserie chicken to make it a complete meal. I hope you enjoy and leave me a comment if you make this!

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asparagus and feta panzanella salad

asparagus and feta panzanella salad


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  • Author: Sepideh Esmaili Campos

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound tomatoes, washed and chopped into ½ inch cubes 
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces asparagus, tough ends cut off 
  • Fresh cracked black pepper 
  • 3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated  
  • 2 cups stale bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (use a hearty bread like ciabatta or baguette that’s been sitting out for a couple days)
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped 

Instructions

  1. Place the chopped tomatoes in a large salad bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside, allowing the tomatoes to release their juices. 
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water (add about 1 tablespoon of salt to the water) to a rolling boil. 
  3. Add the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes (depending on the thickness of the asparagus) until the vegetables are tender crisp. 
  4. Quickly transfer the blanched asparagus to a large bowl of ice water. Drain and cut into 1 inch pieces.
  5. Add the blanched asparagus to the bowl of tomatoes.  
  6. Add a few grinds of fresh cracked black pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, and grated garlic over the vegetables. Gently toss to combine the vegetables with the dressing.
  7. Add the bread pieces, feta cheese, and basil leaves to the salad. Toss to combine the ingredients, allowing the bread to soak up the liquid. 
  8. Taste and adjust lemon and salt if necessary. 
  9. The salad can be served right after mixing or after the flavors have melded for 30 minutes at room temperature or in the refrigerator. 
  10. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator but the bread will be a bit soggy. 

Notes

Note: to make it a meal, top the salad with a soft boiled egg

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