Salads are my go-to whenever I want to use what is in season or what is left in your fridge. Its also a great opportunity to experiement with different flavor combinations and see if things can go well together. While making the pesto for this salad, we didn’t have enough mint to make enough for the whole salad so I thought lets just toss in some of the basil and cilantro we have and see how it goes. Sure enough it worked out well and tasted great so, volia! A really lovely recipe that will help you use up all those extra herbs in your fridge so they don’t go to waste. I know I’ve talked a little bit before about how much I dislike letting things go to waste. So, if you find yourself with some “about to go bad” herbs, make this pesto and then put it on whatever you are in the mood for that day. Some pairings include toast, sandwiches, pasta, risotto, or this salad, obviously.
I was also really pleasently surprised when Julie from The Feed Feed asked for the recipe to feature on their salad feed so you can also find the recipe there, and here is my full profile there as well.
This salad is relatively easy to make and is so far from the mondaine and boring, I guarantee anyone you share it with will be pleased and want the recipe. Regardless of the fact that it is made with spring vegetables and summer literally just started you can confidently make this for the next couple of months. Putting a seasonal twist on the classic Italian salad makes it feel completely fresh and new that you can easily keep it on repeat for as long as you can find these vegetables at your local market. This recipe is healthy, satisfying, sweet, bright, seasonal, delicious.
For the Bread:
Start by making the bread. Over medium heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the bread and a pinch of salt and toss the bread so the cubes are evenly coated in the oil. Stirring occasionally, cook for 10 minutes until the bread is light brown and toasty. Set aside in a large serving bowl.
For the salad:
Wipe the pan clean. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, some salt and stir frequently until they start to caramelize. This will take 5 to 7 minutes and they will break down significantly. Be careful to not overcook the leeks, you want them to slowly caramelize.
Once the leeks are cooked, add the asparagus pieces, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Then at the peas and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Taste test and make sure your vegetables are slightly cooked, and not raw.
Add the vegetables to the bowl with the toasty bread. Toss in the snow peas, mixed greens, and add the balsamic, lemon juice and pepper. Let set while you make the pesto.
For the Pesto:
For the Pesto: in the bowl of a food processor or vitamix, combine the herbs, nuts, garlic and half of the olive oil. Process until everything is chopped into a paste. Keep the motor running and add in the rest of the olive oil until the pesto is smooth. Add the salt and lemon juice and pulse until incorporated. Taste and adjust if necessary.
Add ½ the pesto into the panzanella, and give it a good toss. Then add in the rest, if needed and toss again. I used all the pesto for the salad. Spread amongst plates and enjoy!