Early Summer Panzanella + 5 Perfect Picnic Salads

esp705bI love when things fall into place without much effort, especially when it comes to a meal.  I didn’t stare at our CSA bounty this week, wondering what the hell I should make, anxious that somehow the beautiful produce would sit in our crisper untouched.  Bright green English peas and peppery arugula graced our share this week.  Basil and thyme wildly grow in our garden, thanks to the daily rain and cool temperatures.  (Summer can’t decide if she wants to stay.)  I purchased fresh asparagus and lemons a couple of days prior for a meal that never happened.  All of this produce ready and waiting for Heidi Swanson’s spring panzanella recipe.  The calendar says summer, but not here, not yet.  So, I took advantage of what I had available to me and made one more “spring” meal.


The peas, asparagus and arugula harmoniously come together with the pancetta.  Chunks of hearty, toasted bread soak up the flavors of the garlic, shallot and thyme.  A few good squeezes of fresh lemon juice, a generous sprinkling of sea salt and basil make this the kind of salad you eat and share all season long.

Early Summer Panzanella

Serves 6 as a side-dish, 4 as a main-dish

Recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks


1 lb loaf of crusty, day-old, bread cut into 1 inch cubes (I used an Italian loaf from our favorite bakery. Anything will work.)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves from sprig only

kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch asparagus, cut into pieces

2 cups peas, either fresh or frozen will work (I used fresh.)

4 handfuls of arugula, tough stems removed

juice of one lemon

sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

4 ounces of pancetta, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup small basil leaves


Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  In a large bowl toss together bread, garlic, shallot, thyme, salt and olive oil.  Dump bread mixture on to a sheet pan in one even layer.  Toast in oven until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.

Using a cold skillet, pour in a few tablespoons of water and olive oil and a pinch or two of salt.  Turn up the heat.  When the water just starts to bubble add the asparagus and cover for about a minute.  Next add the peas and cook uncovered for a couple of minutes or until bright green and heated through.   Remove from heat.

Place bread crumb mixture in a large bowl and pour the asparagus and peas and remaining pan juices all over the bread.   Add arugula, juice of one lemon, basil and crumbled pancetta.  Toss gently.  Season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Tastes best the day it is made.  Enjoy!

5 Perfect Picnic Salads You Can’t Miss!

Buy the fresh cherries that are on sale now and make Not Without Salt’s couscous salad with fresh cherries.  This salad will be a hit at any picnic this summer!

If you need a healthy and gluten-free salad to bring to your next summer gathering, check out the kitchn’s brown rice salad with apples, walnuts and cherries.

Need a new pasta salad recipe?  Check out Smitten Kitchen’s summer pea and roasted red pepper pasta salad or the Pioneer Woman’s pesto pasta salad.

Bacon, green onions and a generous amount of cheddar cheese come together with russet potatoes for a loaded baked potato salad that will have friends and family asking for seconds and the recipe!  Thank you Foodie Crush!

And this!!!!

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.

It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.”

3 thoughts on “Early Summer Panzanella + 5 Perfect Picnic Salads

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