I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoy live music. Isn’t that terrible? I just don’t keep up with shows that come through town because I don’t have a default music buddy to go with me. Last night, Jordan texted me as I was photographing this salad with a super last-minute, free ticket to see Ok Go. Since I’m “the friend who’s up for anything!” I drove right there to meet them. And it was AWESOME.
Few sights fill me with more glee than watching others jam out in their own element, and Ok Go really jammed out. The visuals! The dancing! The brilliant, unique, goofy determination and talent behind it all! That’s self-actualization at its finest, not to mention most entertaining. I loved every minute of it.
I experience the same tizzy awe every time I crack open a book created by a friend. The newest arrival is The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen by Erin Alderson of Naturally Ella. It’s a cookbook that offers fifty base recipes, each with four seasonal variations, for a total of two hundred. Erin is a recipe-creating machine and I love having a tangible copy of her hard work.
Erin asked me to help her test out the recipes for this book last year and this salad was one of them. Now that I can share it with the world, I just couldn’t resist. This spring panzanella features fresh greens, raw peas (which are really good!) and pea shoots (found at Trader Joe’s), thinly sliced fennel and freshly baked, whole grain croutons tossed in a lemony dressing. Her final recipe calls for minced garlic scapes, which are green onion-like shoots that grow out of garlic if you let them. I used pressed garlic instead. Congrats on a job well done, Erin!
Erin’s Spring Panzanella with Fresh Peas and Fennel
- Author: Cookie and Kate
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 12 mins
- Total Time: 27 minutes
- Yield: 2 to 4 salads
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Tuscan
Fresh panzanella recipe for springtime! Panzanella is a traditional Tuscan salad. This spring green version features fresh peas, pea shoots and fennel. If you intend to have leftovers, I suggest storing the greens and croutons separately from the rest and tossing it all together just before serving. Recipe yields 2 generous portions or 4 side salads.
- 2 cups bite-sized cubes of crusty whole grain bread
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups arugula or spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 cup thinly sliced fennel
- 1 cup fresh shelled peas
- 1 cup pea shoots, optional
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon, juiced)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 to 2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup or agave nectar, to taste
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On the baking sheet, toss the cubed bread with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until crisp.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the roughly chopped greens, sliced fennel, fresh peas (yep, they’re raw!), pea shoots and sunflower seeds.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Drizzle the dressing over the salad mixture and toss to combine. Once the croutons have had a few minutes to cool down, toss those in as well and serve.
Recipe adapted from The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen by Erin Alderson.
Make it vegan: Simply use maple syrup or agave nectar instead of honey.
Make it gluten free: Use some great gluten-free bread in place of the whole grain bread.