Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Asparagus Bread Salad

I've been recently obsessed with the idea of making an asparagus bread salad. My childhood self shudders at that. I never did like asparagus growing up, and when I first made bread salad I was terrified that the bread would come out mushy. Ew. Mushy is not something I do very well. But last year I braved the panzanella and made a tomato bread salad that was absolutely heavenly. The bread was not mushy, it was just like eating giant croutons. Why didn't anyone tell me about this sooner? A salad with just the best part and no boring lettuce? This is something I can get behind. Anyway, for the past 24 hours I have been searching the Food Network and Epicurious in hopes of uncovering inspiration for my dream. I had nearly given up, when I turned to SmittenKitchen and discovered Spring Panzanella. I do not have nearly half the ingredients for that recipe, so below find a merged version, part Smitten, part Gourmet and all yummy goodness.

adapted from SmittenKitchen and Gourmet

1 medium bunch of asparagus, small stalks if possible
1 cup chopped tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced and separated
6 C cubed good quality bread, stale is preferred
6 T parmigiano reggiano grated
1/2 red onion diced (or minced, I like mine fine)
1/4 c olive oil for bread
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil for dressing
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice (approximately half a lemon)
1/2 t dijon mustard
1 T capers (optional)
salt and pepper

Bread - Preheat the oven to 400F. Cube the bread into large chunks. Mix together the olive oil, parm, one of the garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Put on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove.
Vegetables - Fill a shallow pot with water and allow to boil. Trim asparagus, chop off the bottom 1/3 of the stalk and discard, if your stalks are very thick, you can use a veggie peeler to peel them a bit. Then cut the rest of the spears into about 1 inch long segments. When water is boiling, toss in asparagus and cook for 3 minutes, then drain and set aside. In a medium pan, add a splash of olive oil and the remaining minced clove of garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for just a minute or two until warm but not mushy. Dressing - Mix together the lemon juice, vinegar and the diced red onion. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then add the 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil and the dijon. Mix well.

Combine the bread, vegetables, capers and dressing in a large bowl and mix well. Allow some time for the dressing to soak into the bread salad, maybe about 5 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!

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