This salad is a great way to make use of an abundance of summer-time tomatoes and basil, and use up any stale bread at the same time. Panzanella, also known as panmolle, is a Tuscan salad of humble origins, traditionally incorporating tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and bread, and sometimes onions. The word derives from the Italian, pane ‘bread’, and zanella ‘small basket’.
The following recipe is a version of panzanella, the addition of asparagus making it a delicious spring-time salad.
The recipe idea comes from New Zealand Taste magazine (October 2014), and Mum and I changed the recipes quantities, and a few cooking and preparation methods, to make the following recipe.
Vegetarian | Serves 2
½ bunch asparagus spears, trimmed
3 thick slices of sourdough bread
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
3 dessertspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped (use acid-free if possible)
loose handful of basil leaves
½ small red onion, finely sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Boil asparagus until tender, but not falling apart. Drain then cut into thirds.
- Brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast both sides of the bread in a frying pan.
- While the bread is still hot, rub both sides of each slice of sourdough with a cut clove of garlic.
- Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk together.
- Combine the sliced asparagus, chopped tomatoes, basil leaves and sliced red onion in a bowl. Pour over the dressing of oil and lemon juice, and toss well. Season to taste.
- Tear the bread into bite sized pieces. Add into the salad just before serving so the bread remains crispy.
We served our asparagus panzanella with fried halloumi cheese, and extra asparagus.
Wine: Peter Yealands, Reserve, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2013. One of the nicest wines I have had the pleasure to drink this year. A soft and sweet wine, and far too easy to drink.
A note on the Sourdough bread:
Mum and I managed to make Asparagus Panzanella, Bruschetta, and French Toast out of one loaf of sourdough. (This was a lovely tasting sourdough from a local café, called Source.) Search my site for the keywords of ‘bruschetta’ and ‘French Toast’ to find the recipes.