Asparagus Panzanella Recipe

A simple asparagus panzanella - a quick, mustard buttermilk dressing accents good asparagus, alongside crusty shards of toasted bread, and a dusting of sesame seeds. Shred a hard boiled egg over the top and you've got an even more substantial meal.

Asparagus Panzanella

There is quite a lot going on here. I'm putting the finishing touches on this little bear of a project. The photos are shot, the cover is set, and the files are locked down. It's the stretch of time between creating the content of a book, and when it goes to the printer. When things get a bit quiet. You're past the point of being able to tweak or change things, and you're waiting for your turn on press. Having a bit of a lull has been nice. I've been photographing beautiful California-made ceramics for a Spring update here, and getting all Marie Kondo on the house. Also, I've been cooking as much as ever. I think that's in part because I've moved on from the recipes in Near & Far, at least for the time being. I've lived with those recipes for the past few years, and they're ready to have a life in kitchens that aren't mine. This is exciting, but it also means there is a space cleared on my counter for other people's books. I can pick and choose from all those recipes I've had earmarked for months, or just play around in the kitchen a bit more freely. This is an example of something I pulled together for lunch & couldn't resist taking a few photos. It's a simple asparagus panzanella made with whatever was in reach. A quick, mustard buttermilk dressing accents good asparagus, alongside crusty shards of toasted bread, and a dusting of sesame seeds. Shred a hard boiled egg over the top and you've got an even more substantial meal.

Asparagus PanzanellaAsparagus PanzanellaAsparagus PanzanellaAsparagus Panzanella

I'm finishing up a good favorites list I hope to finish before the weekend. In the meantime, enjoy the panzanella.

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Asparagus Panzanella

1/3 cup / 80 ml buttermilk
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
fine grain sea salt

1 bunch of asparagus
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large handful of torn bread
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
edible herb flowers (optional)

Start by making the dressing. Whisk together the buttermilk, olive oil, mustard, vinegar, half of the scallions, and a couple of pinches of salt. Taste and adjust if needed, before setting aside.

Trim the tough ends from the asparagus, and cut into ½-inch segments, on a bias.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, add the bread, toss until well coated, then toast, tossing now and then, until golden. Transfer to a paper or clean linen towel.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, salt generously, and blanch the asparagus until just tender - 20 seconds or so if your asparagus is thin, a bit longer depending on thickness. Drain, and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking if you'd like to serve this cold. Alternately, transfer the asparagus directly to the serving bowl without the cold water rinse, if you'd like it warm. Add the remaining scallions, a good splash of the dressing, toss well, and decide if you'd like more dressing. Finish with the sesame seeds, toasted bread, and a sprinkling of herb blossoms if you have them.

Serves 2-4.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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I followed the recipe just as you said, and it was delicious. Here in Switzerland, asparagus is in season. We do not eat it at other times of the year waiting patiently until we finally have the local product. What a great recipe for our first asparagus of the year!


Love making Panzanella but never thought of a buttermilk dressing....sounds delicious!

Angelique Abbate

We've been looking for a different way to bring some asparagus to our springtime lunches for the children, Heidi, and I think this is just beautiful! Our Montessori class made a variation on your kale quinoa bites (with feta, leeks, and mushrooms) earlier this week. Not only did the children have fun making these "healthy cupcakes," as they called them, but they all gobbled it up and asked for more! You can see a few of the photos--and our special bilingual thanks to you--on our FB page ( Keep 'em coming!!!


Absolutely fantastic! I added some French green lentils and a few handfuls of spinach because I was a bit shy on the asparagus (thought there was more in the fridge than there was). Super big hit here - even with the 4 year old :) Thanks so much!


This is a lovely salad. I have never enjoyed asparagus in this way, so I am looking forward to. I am also looking forward to the release of your book!

kristie {}

Down here in Palo Alto, the organic asparagus is already gone from our farmers market. Any other seasonal veg you think would be appropriate? Maybe snap peas or green beans would be mild enough?

HS: Sure Nanda - or a combination!


You've created a beautiful springtime salad that will be perfect with all the sourdough bread I've been obsessed with baking lately (and torn up sourdough pretzels would work too, which I happen to have a couple of laying around... especially with the mustard dressing - yum)! I can never get enough of artichokes and asparagus this time of year and I'm glad to have another use for asparagus other than my current favorite which I have on repeat because I love it so much... sautéing it in the homemade bouillon paste you highlighted a while back along with some olive oil. Thanks for a glimpse into your bright and airy kitchen. I love it and tried to get countertops similar to what you have when we renovated our kitchen but had to compromise since my husband had opinions on it too (the nerve! LOL). I got to have my turquoise Arabesque glass backsplash and he got the countertops he liked (which are way darker and more mottled than I want. They hide crumbs which makes me crazy because I'm constantly cleaning them off and finding... yes, more crumbs ). Your jar collection is something to behold too. The herbs and flowers look lovely.

Lisa Cohen // Life is in the Details

You make the humblest of salads feel so special and luxurious through your photos, thoughtful ingredient pairings, and in the way you write about the dish. You're really a triple threat. You could write a book similar to An Everlasting Meal (of course in your own style), and I think we'd all gobble it up! I would for sure.

HS: Thanks Katie!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Yum! And your kitchen is so cute :)

Jennifer Stevens | Adventurous Appetite

What a wonderful idea - this looks like the perfect spring salad that lets the flavour and colour of the green asparagus really pop!


Dear Panzanella, Love of my life! I drool for you !

Ciao Florentina

Absolutely stunning, and that dressing sounds delicious with the sweet buttermilk and tangy mustard, yum! :D It sounds like you have been doing one hell of a job, I cannot wait to see the results :) xx

Jules @ WolfItDown

I love the toasted sesame seeds in here! And what a great way to get more asparagus in my diet, I'm tempted to just boil it or roast it in the oven, not very creative, I know! Hard boiled eggs on top sound great! And I'm thinking to add edible nasturtiums on top? Think a popping red/orange flower would be so pretty =)

Laura ~ Raise Your Garden

This is such a pretty interpretation of panzanella. I love the hard-boiled egg on top and mustard dressing. All the flavors are perfectly orchestrated. Delicious Heidi!!


Such a beautiful, simple spring salad. Love the pretty edible flowers!

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth

Can almond milk be used? I am having to leave dairy behind. If almond milk can be used, is there some way to doctor it up to work like buttermilk?


I like the idea of this salad but sorry, hate the dressing. I cannot abide mustard as a recognizable taste in anything. What would be good as an alternative?

HS: Hi Jenny, you could leave it out and add a much of chopped herbs / chives instead.

Jenny Fletcher

Forgive my ignorance, maybe I'm just not clicking on the right thing, but didn't you forget to post the ingredients.... for example, what are those pretty flowers?

HS: Hi Julie! They're there, at the end of the ingredient list - I have them listed as optional.

Julie in San Diego

Wow! That looks so yummmy! I love asparagus! Definitely need to get my hands on some so I can try this recipe!

Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday

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