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Asparagus Panzanella

Apr 4, 11 • SaladNo CommentsRead More »

1/2 cup unsalted butter
12 cups crust-free cubed day-old bread (1/2-inch cubes)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

2 pound medium asparagus
1/2 cup freshly chopped basil leaves
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Sea salt, preferably gray salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh or frozen English peas, boiled until tender and drained
1 cup thinly sliced green onion or spring onion
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, divided

2 cup whole baby spinach leaves
Fresh parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until it foams. Add bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Transfer the bread to a baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle with the cheese and toss again while warm to melt the cheese.

Bake, stirring once or twice, untilĀ  croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool.

Discard the tough end of asparagus. Cut off the tips and reserve. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus tips and cook briefly, just until they lose their raw taste. Lift them out with a sieve or skimmer and let cool. Add the remaining portion of the asparagus spears and cook until tender enough to puree, then drain well.

Put the asparagus spears, basil, 6 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the croutons, asparagus tips, peas, and green or spring onion. Add some of the asparagus puree and toss to coat well. Add more puree as needed to coat lightly and evenly. Add 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then make an even layer of the mixture on a platter.

In another bowl, combine the radicchio and spinach. Dress with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, then mound on top of the asaparagus/croutons mixture. Shave some ricotta salata (or parmesan) over the top. Serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Michael Chiarello

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