Monday, May 7, 2012

Roasted Spring Vegetable Panzanella

If you love a classic tomato Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad) you are going to love this version packed with seasonal spring vegetables! This salad is loaded with artichokes, arugula, asparagus, parsley, leeks, and sweet onions. Other seasonal veggies you could add would be spring onions, spinach, radishes, peas, mint, carrots, and fava beans- to name a few.

Now when making this for the first time I wanted to keep it totally fresh and seasonal so I roasted my own fresh artichokes. Now I'm not going to lie to you, roasting artichokes is a labor of love. If you want to set out on this adventure, by all means do so. I've added canned artichokes to this recipe just to keep things a little simpler for you.

Roasted Spring Vegetable Panzanella
((Printable Recipe))

1 pound (8 cups) whole wheat Italian bread, cut into cubes
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and discarded, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 leek, sliced in half and cut in half moons (soaked, cleaned thoroughly, and dried)
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
5 ounces organic arugula, washed and spun dry
1 bunch basil, cut in a chiffonade
a punch of fresh chopped parsley
1 sweet onion, sliced thin
1 can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or about 2 cups cooked beans)
1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper- set aside.

3. Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of oil. Place them on a rimmed sheet pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted. Place the bread crumbs in a large serving bowl and set aside.

4. On the same sheet pan, place the cut asparagus and leeks. Toss with 2 tablespoons of oil and a dash of salt and pepper. Roast for about 10-15 minutes (depending on how thick your asparagus is.) Until the asparagus is nicely charred and crisp tender. Scrape the asparagus and leeks into the bowl with the bread cubes.

5. Add the chopped artichokes, arugula, basil, parsley, and sweet onion to the salad bowl. Toss together with the dressing and set aside for 20 minutes to allow the bread to soften before serving.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

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