I like my salad to have — for lack of a better word — oomph. Texture, color, acidity, fat, salt.
Aimee Heriard-Dubreuil’s spring panzanella salad contains all of the above: A homemade white balsamic vinaigrette with dijon mustard and shallot contrasts beautifully with your choice of halloumi or burrata, and the ciabatta bread is cubed and baked with olive oil, salt and pepper, putting storebought croutons to shame. Plus you have fresh asparagus, radishes, pea shoots and sugar snap peas — all of which you can buy locally from your favorite farmers market.
Speaking of farmers markets: If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check out our Food & Drink cover story this week. It’s a guide for upcoming (and just-opened) farmers markets around Snohomish County. And you get to read about me nerding out with local vendors over the beauty (and hard work) of growing food right in Washington.
Snohomish Farmers Market was a great reminder of all the work that goes into growing produce, baking bread, pressing olives and running a small business amid inflation, health concerns, high gas prices, worker shortages and other pandemic-fueled headaches. It ain’t easy, so the least we can do is support our local businesses (and not always resort to boxed mac and cheese on stressful evenings…not that I’m calling myself out here or anything).
Aimee has an entire blog and Instagram account dedicated to creative dishes and local ingredients (I’m trying her lemon rolls with rhubarb jam next). Follow her on Instagram @frenchcreekkitchen or go to frenchcreekkitchen.net to check out her blog and snag some recipes. We hope to share more of her beautiful dishes here soon. Thank you, Aimee!
Spring Panzanella Salad
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the white balsamic vinegar, shallot, dijon and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk the vinegar mixture while slowly drizzling in the olive oil until completely combined. Add the salt and taste for seasoning. It should be pretty tart and bright. Add more salt if needed.
2 bunches asparagus, tough stems removed
1 cup radishes, thinly sliced
2 cups sugar snap peas, sliced whole into 1/2 inch slices
2 cups fresh pea shoots
8 or 9 oz Halloumi Cheese, or 8 oz Burrata cut into rough pieces
1 loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to bake at 400 degrees.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water and then add the asparagus stalks. Cook at a low boil for 2 minutes and then drain the asparagus well. Allow the asparagus to cool until you can handle it, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Place in a large bowl and move to the refrigerator to cool completely while you prepare the rest of the the salad.
Place the bread cubes on a large baking sheet in a single layer (use two baking sheets if necessary) and toss with the 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grindings of fresh pepper. When the oven is preheated, move the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and toasted, it can still be a little soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
When the asparagus is cold, add the radish slices, sliced peas and pea shoots to the bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and set aside.
If using halloumi:
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small nonstick pan over medium heat. Cut the halloumi in half legthwise to make thinner slices. Place each piece in the pan and cook until brown and crispy on the bottom, flip and repeat process on the other side. Remove from the pan and cool until you can handle it. Tear into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl with the vegetables.
If using burrata, proceed below:
Add the toasted bread cubes, 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grindings of fresh pepper to the bowl with the vegetables and toss everything together. Taste for seasoning and add more vinaigrette and salt if needed. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes in order for the bread cubes to absorb some of the vinaigrette and soften a bit, then taste again for seasoning.
If using burrata, gently toss it in just before serving.
Serve cold or at room temperature.