Spring Panzanella with Asparagus and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Trust the Italians to turn stale bread into something delicious: instead of throwing out that hardened, forgotten loaf, toss with fresh vegetables and tangy balsamic dressing to soften it up and make a meal.

Casey Barber

Spring Panzanella with Asparagus and Balsamic Vinaigrette

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    1 bunch asparagus, trimmed into 1-inch lengths 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    Kosher salt 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
    1/4 cup olive oil, divided 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1 small shallot, minced 1 (15-ounce) jar cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1 large clove garlic, minced Freshly ground black pepper


    Prep: 30 min Total:
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    • 1

      Bring a 4-quart stockpot filled with water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

    • 2

      Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, until bright green but still crunchy, then scoop out with a strainer and transfer to the bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let cool in the ice water for 5 minutes, then drain.

    • 3

      Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the shallot, garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and slightly softened.

    • 4

      Add the balsamic vinegar and whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 more minutes.

    • 5

      Cool the dressing for 5 minutes, rewhisking to combine if needed, then toss with the drained asparagus, bread cubes, mozzarella, and cannellini beans.

    • 6

      Grind pepper over the salad to taste.

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