Ahhh, spring has officially arrived. And that means we need some new recipes fit for the season. For example, this crisp and light spring panzanella salad. It combines the freshest seasonal produce (hello, asparagus) with bread (not croutons--it makes a difference) and a tangy dressing (homemade, obvi) for a meal that'll fill you up but won't leave you overstuffed.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pint wild mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
1⅓ cups peas
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup watercress
2 cups dandelion greens, roughly torn
½ loaf whole-wheat sourdough bread (preferably day-old), cut into 1-inch cubes (see note)
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Make the Salad: In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until barely tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peas and cook 2 minutes more. Drain the asparagus and peas, and shock them in ice water. Drain and set aside.
3. In a large salad bowl, toss the cooled mushrooms with the asparagus, peas, scallions, watercress, dandelion greens and sourdough bread to combine.
4. Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar with the mustard to combine. Gradually add the olive oil, whisking constantly until fully combined. Stir in the mint; season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the dressing to the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Note: Panzanella is usually made with stale bread that is a day or two old. If you’re starting with fresh bread, toast it in a 300°F oven until it’s dry (but not golden), about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely before adding to the salad.