RECIPE: Asparagus Panzanella with Lemon Dressing

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This spring creation comes from Karen Covey, author of The Coastal Table: Recipes Inspired by the Farmlands and Seaside of Southern New England.

“Panzanella is a bread salad and a perfect way to use up day-old bread,” Covey writes. “Traditionally the salad is supposed to sit for a while, allowing the bread to soak up the liquid, but I prefer my bread cubes to have a little crunch left so I let them sit in the dressing for only about 5 minutes or so. If you prefer the bread softer, allow the salad to sit longer at room temperature before serving.” Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 loaf French bread, cut in half lengthwise

1 large bunch fresh baby arugula

Juice from 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup feta cheese, or to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Toss asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil and place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Place in oven and cook until asparagus is just softened, turning once halfway, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and set aside to cool slightly.

3. Turn oven to broil. On the same baking sheet, add bread (cut sides down) and toast for 1–3 minutes. Turn bread slices over and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Continue toasting for another 1–3 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.

4. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a mason jar, add lemon juice, honey, mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and shake until combined. Taste and adjust as desired.

5. Tear (or cut) bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with about 1/2 of the dressing, tossing bread to coat completely. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes or longer (see headnote).

6. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces and add to the bowl along with arugula. Add remaining dressing to the bowl and gently toss to combine, coating everything well. Divide salad among serving bowls or plates, top each with feta cheese, and serve immediately.

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