Asparagus season is pretty much over in South Carolina, and though I really love asparagus, I sometimes have a hard time being creative with it. To add a bit of variety to my asparagus repertoire, I made a panzanella with roasted asparagus and the most delicious fresh vidalia onions from the farmer’s market.
The last panzanella I made was from old bread that I had baked myself, which made a wondrous world of difference. I haven’t been making a lot of bread lately, and used some old bread leftover from a bakery, which worked well, but didn’t have that same good breadiness that mine had.
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, stems snapped off and washed
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 sweet onion, like vidalia, sliced (I used a fresh vidalia which was so sweet I could have eaten it like an apple)
- 1/2 a jar of marinated or canned artichoke hearts
- 5 or 6 basil leaves, cut into thin strips
- leftover bread, at least 5 or 6 slices (you want a good artisanal bread, commercial breads will only get soggy after they have been put under running water)
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, separated
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Snap the ends off of the asparagus and wash them thoroughly, drying them well when you have finished. Toss the asparagus on a baking sheet 2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Let them roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, turning them halfway through. It is best to use larger spears, the thin ones tend to shrivel. Set aside to cool while preparing the other ingredients.
Wet the bread all the way through, you don’t want to soak it, it just needs to get soft, but not soggy. Break into small pieces with your hands and place in a large bowl. Add the onion, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, basil and asparagus. Toss through and let sit for at least an hour before serving. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad and toss through immediately before serving.