Spring Panzanella Recipe

A spring twist on a panzanella recipe. This panzanella features asparagus, spinach, and peas with hearty, garlic and time toasted bread cubes.

Spring Panzanella

I wasn't going to run this Spring Panzanella recipe. It sounded like some of you were suffering from pea and asparagus fatigue, so I planned on saving it for next year, or just keeping it to myself. But after seeing mountains of peas at the Union Square Farmer's Market in New York City on Saturday morning I changed my mind. Here it is, one last pea and asparagus recipe, before it's too late and we run headlong into summer. I used herbs from my container garden (more about that ongoing saga later), and fresh peas, asparagus, and greens from the farmers' market. The thing that makes this recipe great is that you don't need to make up a separate dressing, flavorful pan juices from cooking the greens do the job nicely without any extra effort.

Spring Panzanella Recipe

For those of you interested in my NYC trip, the Greenmarket was just one of the great things I encountered on this trip - it's actually hard for me to believe what we were able to cram into such a short stay. Here's a list of highlights from my 72 hours in NYC; Union Square Greenmarket, cortado at Joe The Art of Coffee, Gibraltar at Gimme! Coffee, lunch with Grace, drinks with Harris, Dashwood Books (photography books), Gobo, two of my favorite paintings, Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, Birdbath, Soho Grand Hotel, baked eggs & brunch with Adam at August, Caravan of Dreams, Babycakes NYC, Magnolia Bakery, Le Pain Quotidien, Paul Smith store in Soho, A.P.C., Cafe 2 at the MoMA, Dean & Deluca, Ten Speed Press reception, James Beard Foundation Awards at Lincoln Center, breakfast with Lily, and a couple other rendez-vous I'll keep quiet for now ;)....

...all in 90+ degree heat, and most of it on foot. Needless to say, Wayne is a good sport.

Spring Panzanella Recipe

A photograph of Wayne in Soho near our hotel taken by me

So, we had a great time at the (blindingly) star-studded James Beard Awards and the Gala Reception that followed - both took place at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. It's funny, I suspect the memory that will stay with me longest was not part of the official plan. Following the awards ceremony (and as if to remind everyone to keep things in perspective), the sky opened up into a remarkable lightning display. To stand on the balcony of Avery Fisher Hall, sheltered from raindrops the size of elephant tears, thunder booming, sweltering heat, staring up at the twinkling buildings of New York city was something I will hold onto for a long time.

The photo of me with Adam up above was taken by Wayne in front of August.

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Spring Panzanella Recipe

The bread I used also had walnuts and dried cranberries in it, but I think I'd prefer a seeded whole wheat version. Use whatever you like.

1 lb loaf of hearty, day-old, whole wheat bread into 1-inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme - just pluck leaves from the sprig
a couple pinches of salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, cut into segments
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
4 handfuls spinach
1/4 cup small basil leaves

In a large bowl toss the bread with the garlic, shallot, thyme, salt and olive oil. Turn the bread out onto a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes - or until they are nice and golden and crunchy.

In a cold skillet pour in a splash of olive oil, a splash of water, and a couple pinches of salt. Dial up the heat and when the water starts to bubble stir in the asparagus. Cover, wait about twenty seconds, now add the peas. Cover, wait a few seconds, now add the spinach. Cover and cook just a few more seconds until the spinach starts to collapse just a bit.

Put the bread crumbs in a large bowl. Now pour the asparagus and peas and all the pan juices over the top of the bread.

Give it a good toss, add the basil leaves and toss again. Serve the salad family-style on a big platter.

Makes about 6 - 8 servings.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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My first post here, and I have to give you “mad props”.
My family, wife and 2 girls, are veg and I am non-veg. We are always looking for food we can make that is both hearty and veg that the entire family can enjoy and since I have found your website and book, I think we have a good guide to satisfy us all.
So I eagerly await your posts to see what you will provide, especially since you promote recipes that are balanced nutritionally.
That being said, I tried this recipe tonight with mixed results.
What worked:
The recipe
What didn’t work:
My take on it
While things turned out generally good I have the following questions and observations.
I was confused by the instruction to, “In a cold skillet pour in a splash of olive oil, a splash of water, and a couple pinches of salt. Dial up the heat and when the water starts to bubble stir in the asparagus.”
How high do you dial the heat? What is a “splash” of water? I guess if the objective is to gauge when the skillet is hot enough to boil water, that’s pretty clear. But how much additional heat should be applied?
For reference, I have an electric stovetop not a gas stovetop.
I’m not very experienced cooking asparagus so I cooked it longer than the recipe advises trying to get it soft.
Could you clarify that instruction a little more to your experience so I can understand how to adapt it to mine?
Also, with regard to the pea cooking time, was the instruction for fresh peas, frozen peas or just peas in general? Mine came out just fine, in my opinion, but I am curious.
The recipe calls for 2C of peas, I assume that is by volume and not by weight. Could you confirm? I went by volume but I wanted to be sure.
My last question is about the bread, I had a good multi grain loaf that I bought yesterday , had sliced and then i set it out on the counter to get “day old”. And boy did it, again, citing inexperience, my question is, do you by a whole loaf and let it age a day or just browse for the day-old loaves at the Bi-Rite?
Thanks in advance,


Your trip sounds fantastic and this salad even moreso. We’re still harvesting peas here in Georgia so I’ll be sure to give this a try. Love the addition of the greens. This is a nice twist on panzanella. — Life Chef

Life Chef

Caravan of Dreams is the best vegetarian restaurant in the city. The close second best (for future trips) is Wild Ginger on Broome St. in Soho. Yum.


I love Gobo! I eat there often. My favorite dish there is the Tender Sliced Seitan in Ginger Marinade with Squash and Kale and Brown Rice.
I tried to replicate the general concept of the dish at home, but I can’t seem to get rid of the “seitan” flavor of seitan. Gobo’s seitan has great texture and seems to soak up the marinade really well, not like mine.


Hi Heidi,
I just subscribed to your blog. I like the Spring Panzanella salad recipe you posted. It is simple and uses what is in season. Looks great!

Sophia from Kitchen Caravan

Just the thing I need for a midsummer’s party – thanks !


Thanks so much for this! Here in Colorado our growing season is later and my peas are just starting to fatten up! Hooray!


Thanks so much for this! Here in Colorado our growing season is later and my peas are just starting to fatten up! Hooray!


I always like your recipes !!!


Delurking to say I LOVE your blog! It’s a joy to peruse. And you inspire me to eat better.


ive been cooking from your website and cookbook for so many months now – i had to post! i love your recipes so much, ive always wanted to cook/eat this way and ive even turned my bf onto this food (and he was mr. pizza and burgers when i met him) i’ve gotten so many of my friends hooked to your site as well…so thank you!!!
but actually what made me cave is to ask you a question – where do you get your bread?? it looks like the german bread i lug back from berlin/demand my friends carry back for me … any tips on where to get that in SF?
HS: Thanks! The bread in this shot (as well as another favorite – the whole wheat seeded bread) is by Acme, I think I picked up this particular loaf at Bi-Rite. They distribute to lots of stores around the city, but seem to have their best selection at the Ferry Building store or stall out back.


I’ve never commented here before though I’ve been a long time reader but now that you mentioned Gimme! I couldn’t help but state my love for it–I’m a native Ithacan (though I just moved to Boston) and grew up just blocks from the original one (I was there the first day they opened!).


Ah! You like some places I love in NYC: Greenmarket (great upstate NYC jams). Was there on a Saturday morning about two years ago and at another stand they did a radish greens saute demo.
Joe’s is good for coffee as is Jack’s, which I believe is on tenth in the West Village.
Bonnie Slotnick’s is mecca for me, but a bit pricey. My treasured Patricia Michelson book about cheese came from her cozy bookshop.
Keep the great recipes and hopefully more videos coming at Youtube. (I’m MrPogle at YouTube.) Enjoy NY.
-Erika in SF
p.s. Sun-dried tomato cottage cheese muffins recipe was fabulous. Only thing was the muffins sticking to the paper. Any advice? Delicious recipe–as so many of yours are. Thanks!


Tried your Tofu recipe, it was perfect. Starting to eat lots of fresh veggies. Will continue to use your recipes. Thanks.


Heidi – I love this kind of recipe – quick, easy, healthy and super good! It’s great to utilize ingredients when in season – thanks for one more.


It’s so interesting looking at seasonal changes even from one side of the country to the other. It seems like peas and asparagus overlap a lot in California, guessing by how many of your recent recipes include both. But here in NY, I’m pretty sure we’re on the tail end of our asparagus season, yet the peas you saw last week were some of the first ones to show up (or at least the first time they were in mountains!). Either way, I love both vegetables and I’m always happy to see recipes for them! My plan for tomorrow is to pick up some peas to try the pea dumpling recipe you posted a while back.


I’m so glad you went to Caravan! I love that it’s still a little out of the spotlight. Nice little spot tucked away from the hustle and bustle! The owner is so well knowledged and plans out each dish according to the body’s optimal usage. And not to mention it just tastes so damn good! Glad you had a nice visit with us!


I’ve been a lurker for some time now, but thought I’d come out of the shadows to reiterate what everyone’s saying here: we all know it’s wise for our health and our planet to eat seasonally, so your many variations on peas/asparagus are most gratefully received!


We love your site and the pics. Goind to try this tonight. You are a cute couple.
Restaurant Coupons


You and Adam are so cute! I love seeing food bloggers get together.


First a red panzanella and now a green one!
WOW!…It’s time for the celebrations to begin! 🙂


I’m so glad you ate at August! I don’t hear much about it anymore, but I had one of the best dishes of my life there a few years ago: it was a salad of thin apple slices, whisps of crisp fennel, walnuts, and challah bread soaked in honey and olive oil. I almost cried.
HS: we really enjoyed it – everything was simply prepared, beautifully. Not overly fussed with. And that salad you speak of sounds amazing!


Are you going to write more about the Beard event? Tell us something so we can pretend we were there with you.
HS: Like how bad my feet hurt by the end of the night? 😉 I’ll write more about it at some point in the near future.


Heidi, sorry i missed you at the farmer’s market, Always love your recipes!


I love babycakes. Gluten free heaven. What did you get? I am happy you had a blast.


fantastic trip :0)
my oh my, the green in that salad is so vibrant!! love it.


As much as I love California….don’t we just terribly miss those wet and sometimes thundering and flashing experiences in the summer that the Bay Area doesn’t afford us?
HS: I hear you. The only place I could regularly see thunderstorms is when my family would stay at Lake Tahoe during the summers when I was a kid. We loved that.


I’ve never made panzanella without tomatoes… ohh, new and exciting. Wait, if this is exciting I might have to get out more.
About the photo of Wayne: there was something about this photo that drew me back to look at it a few times. It took me a while to figure out that the line between the gray and white on the door, the shadow on Wayne’s face, and the buttons on his shirt all make a line down the center of the photo. That along with the columns makes for an almost subconscious feeling of distance, as if I’m meant to look up… Oh, and I love the faint reflection of the one way sign on the gray side of the door above Wayne’s head. It betrays the “look up” directive, and argues that I should instead look left.


What a yummy recipe, but I guess anyone tired of peas and asparagus could use artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes!


This is a great twist on a panzanella, with the hearty whole wheat and I never get tired of peas or asparagus, so thanks!!


Heidi – I recently discovered your blog! Just in time to hear that you were nominated for a James Beard Award – way to go! I think I will have to add your cookbook to my growing collection (I’ll have to count and see if I am around the 101 mark!?)
This recipe looks great, I will never tire of spring peas and asparagus recipes!
I am not a vegetarian but contemplate the concept continuously – at least I can add more and more vegetarian recipes to my repertoire!
I tried your “Broccoli Pesto & Fusilli Pasta” recipe last week and thought it was great – earthy, crunchy, and delicious!
Thanks so much!

Kristina C.

As it happens, I just made dinner with the last of the peas and carrots I bought at Union Square this past Saturday. It was indeed darn hot that morning (and that weekend).


Hey Heidi,
great recipe! I hope you don’t mind, I put a link to this recipe in my panzanella post on my blog. I’m gonna check out your other variants on panzanella!


OMG you were at gobo and I missed you?
I’m a server at gobo (the one on the UES), you probably went to the one in the village.
I hope you enjoyed it.
I guess I missed my opportunity to have your book signed… (and to give you dessert on the house)
HS: Yes, we went to the one in the village and then walked to a party near Times Square (it was so nice out!) I loved the seitan skewers – really clever and tasty.


Please, please please continue to inundate me with seasonal recipes while the getting is still good for asparagus and peas! I’ve got loads of them and need to find as many ways as possible to eat them all up before it’s too late (hate to waste).


I LOVE PANZANELLA!! Can’t wait to try it, Heidi!!


oh I can never get tired of peas and asparagus! keep it coming


Who gets tired of asparagus recipes?
And I’m always on the lookout for new panzanella recipes. I’ve made your strawberry panzanella recipe a bunch of times this strawberry season with great success, so now I can’t wait to try this one before the last crop of asparagus leaves our farmer’s markets!


ooh this one looks effortless and delicious. just my kind of summertime meal. thanks!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

Wayne is sort of hot. =/ What a dreamboat.


I could live off of peas and asparagus until I turned green!
Thanks so much for sharing!

Jen O

I love panzanella! And although I am a little bored with asparagus lately, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying it, so it’s nice to have a variety of recipes to use 🙂
I’d also love to sub fava beans for the peas here because I have a big bunch of them!


Born and raised in wisconsin, I spent years (falsely) believing that I didn’t like peas or spinach, because I had only ever had the sad little frozen kinds. We’d reheat them with no extra seasonings and serve them like that. yuck!
The first time someone served me fresh sauteed spinach with olive oil, garlic and a hint of lemon I nearly wept with joy it was so good.
I never tire of a great way to get more tasty veg

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet

I can never get sick of peas and asparagus, thanks for sharing and not waiting.
Gotta take advantage of what’s in season, right?
I’ve never made any panzanella – I can’t wait to try it.

Amanda - Photos, Food & Love

I can never get sick of peas and asparagus, thanks for sharing and not waiting.
Gotta take advantage of what’s in season, right?
I’ve never made any panzanella – I can’t wait to try it.

Amanda - Photos, Food & Love

Joe, I love that place! The barista’s are especially pretty!


I had to stop lurking to tell you that Wayne is absolutely adorable!
I try so many things from your website, I can’t wait to try this recipe. Panzanella is one of my favorite things, and I would have never thought to put this together on my own. I could never grow tired of asparagus!


The asparagus will dry up for the season before I get tired of it, so keep the recipes coming. Panzanella is always satisfying, a good way to make the veggies heartier. And I’m alway letting bread get old, it seems. There are only so many croutons you can make….
I bet Green Market was great. I’m just finishing Tim Stark’s book, Heirloom, and would love to get a view of that table full of tomatoes.

Becky and the Beanstock

another panzanella! wonderful!
i still can’t get over the strawberry panzanella recipe of yours and was wondering how one could incorporate other fruits into it now that the strawberry season is over. please don’t keep it till next year to let us know.
now i gotta go try this…


what a trip!! NYC is like that — so full of offerings and unique experiences. If I didn’t love the Bay Area so much I think I’d migrate there…
and about the recipe — it looks delicious! I have made your strawberry panzanella multiple times, always with great results; I’m sure this would be quite the same — plus we might as well celebrate peas and asparagus while they’re still in season!

Jen (Modern Beet)

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