*With secret ingredient
Hidden within this perfectly delicious spring panzanella salad is a secret ingredient you should know about: toasted croutons, made of sunflower seed bread. The mind reels at how this could change the concept of salad forever; crunchy and substantial, these croutons have heft to them. They make you feel like you’re taking good care of yourself with every bite.
This is a true dinner salad, or in small portions an appetizer, and I find myself thinking about it when I’m hungry and haven’t eaten much – or well – all day. It’s like a superhero salad that swoops in to restore the digestive equilibrium of your body, leaving you feeling healthy and wise. I make the sunflower seed bread croutons in batches now and save them for other things (especially snacking,) and you only need a few to satisfy a hangry moment. You’re gonna love these!
Spring Panzanella Salad with Sunflower Panzanella
Adapted from Food and Wine, 2016
Prep time: 45 minutes
- ½ pound sunflower seed bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 ½ cups shelled fresh peas
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- Salt and pepper to taste, plus ½ teaspoon salt for croutons, plus 1 teaspoon salt for salad dressing
- 4 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- ½ pound baby asparagus, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup sunflower sprouts
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
- Labnah, for garnish
- To make the asparagus: Blanch asparagus in a pot of salted boiling water for one minute. Strain and plunge into ice water. Strain and pat dry.
- To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cubes of bread on a baking pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Bake ten minutes until golden brown and set aside to cool.
- Bring salted water to boil in a small pot and cook the peas until tender – only a couple of minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl of iced water to stop the cooking. Drain well and pat dry.
- In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, dill and shallot, and season with salt and pepper.
- Reserve half the dressing for later. Add cucumbers, asparagus, peas and croutons to the bowl and toss to coat.
- Mound the salad on plates and top with sunflower seeds and sprouts, and dollop a spoonful of labneh on each salad, serving remaining dressing on the side.