spring-panzanella Recipes

spring panzanella

Every morning, I wake up and I have to remind myself that it is not spring yet. I push past all of the cute spring clothes I’ve overeagerly purchased and reach for one of the sweaters and lined pants I swear I have worn ten hundred thousand times since September and I was tired of them then: It’s not spring yet. I read food blogs from people in Paris and San Francisco, fawning over the new strawberries and colorful produce at their farmers’ markets and go to ours and see the same cabbage and potatoes (though I’m crossing my fingers for ramps today) as before: It’s not spring yet. And I honestly don’t know why I would expect to be spring in the first week of April when it is never spring in New York during the first week of April but still, I have never been more impatient for the world to warm up around me.

sourish bread cubs

But last weekend it was at least unfrozen enough to take little walk that landed us at the Balthazar Bakery where we split the most mildly sweet and adorably tiny pistachio doughnut ever and picked a small boule of their “sourish” (their description, not mine) white bread and proceeded to forget about it (shame, shame) until it staled. Suddenly, there on the subway platform a couple days later I started scheming about a spring panzanella that would make me feel better about how far off warm weather seems.

leeksasparagus

I busted out my reporter’s notebook and everything, listing things that might work: Green beans? (Nixed because they’re really summer produce.) Leeks? (Because I love them but how would they hold together?) Asparagus! (Because at least we have that around here.) Meyer lemon vinaigrette? (Like I could resist.) White beans! (I had a bit leftover from the cassoulet, and cannot let my Rancho Gordos go to waste!) And all of a sudden I was finally not driving Alex crazy while I griped over the indiginity of a late spring but totally excited to create my own in the kitchen.

ingredientssourish croutons

It’s 50 degrees and rainy in New York City today–I hope this helps. And for those of you in different seasons and continents right now, there are summer and winter panzanellas in the archives.

One year ago: Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad

Spring Panzanella

I’m not going to lie: it is a little awkward to slice and cook leeks like this. But I love them, and I love them in this. If you’re eeked out by trying to slice the slippery guys into segments, you might swap them out with an extra pound of asparagus, green beans, or even lightly cooked carrots.

Serves about 4 as a main and 6 as a side

For the croutons:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed
6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
Half a red onion, finely diced
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the salad:
4 large leeks
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound asparagus
1 19-ounce can of white beans, rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix the bread cubes with the garlic, olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to coat well. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Mix the red onion with the vinegar and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes before whisking in the remaining vinaigrette ingredients: olive oil and dijon. Set aside.

Cut off dark green tops of leeks and trim root ends. Halve each leek lengthwise to within 2 inches of root end. Rinse well under cold running water to wash away sand. Cover leeks with cold water in a 12-inch heavy skillet. Add salt and simmer leeks, uncovered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Without draining the cooking water (you will reuse it for the asparagus), transfer leeks to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then pat the leeks dry with paper towels. Break off tough ends of asparagus and cook it in the boiling water until crisp-tender, no more than three minutes if they’re pencil-thin, more if your asparagus is thicker. Transfer it to another bowl of ice water, drain and pat it dry.

Cut the leeks and the asparagus each into one-inch segments–the leeks will be especially slippery and prone to separating; hold firm and use a sharp knife! Place pieces in a large bowl and mix in beans and cooled parmesan croutons. Pour vinaigrette over and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

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117 comments on spring panzanella

  1. kastinkerbell

    When I first saw the picture, I thought the beans were pine nuts. :)
    I think I’d like to try this, but dial down the oil ratio a bit. Looks amazing!

  2. amber

    i feel your pain- even western kentucky is not experiencing anything like spring yet. i can only take hoodies and rain boots for so long!

  3. Good on ya for nipping the blues in the bud. What a gorgeous and inspired dish. Even though we are still getting snow, we also get a ton of sunshine to give the Illusion of Spring. I remember waiting for (soggy) spring when I lived in Central NY. Talk about depressing. Hang in there.

  4. looks delish even if i seriously have a case of “where the frick is spring?” running rampant through me every time i still have to put on my winter coat! where’s global warming when you need it?? :)

  5. Alice

    Silly question, but why does the recipe indicate that the bread has the crust removed, but in the pictures, it looks like the crust is intact? Does it matter anyway? It’s just going to add more flavor, right?

  6. deb

    I didn’t remove them because I’m lazy, and because I don’t mind them, but in general the crusts do get a bit hard due and it’s little noticeable since its different from the soft center. But of course, you can go either way.

  7. Love this dish! And for a nice change-up (while it’s still cold outside) toss the asparagus, tomatoes, leeks and onions in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them until they’re tender in lieu of simmering. Mmm… roasty.

  8. Joanna

    I’ve never heard of panzanella before, but this looks wonderful! I especially like missginsu’s suggestion of roasting the veggies.

    *crosses fingers that there will be something springy at the market tomorrow*

  9. heather

    looks amazing – it is slated in my menu planner for early next week! and ditto on the Spring longing… while the high for today in Minneapolis is 58, we are supposed to get up to an inch of snow on Saturday… Mother Nature is a tease!

  10. auntjone

    When I first saw the title of the post I thought “Ugh, another tomato salad”. Much to my surprise and delight there is nary a ‘mater to be seen. I had no idea you could mix it up like this. I thought it was tomatoes and croutons and that’s it- no variances. I am SO sheltered!

    Here’s a sad confession…I don’t think I’ve ever had a leek!

  11. I am SO with you on this spring thing… When will it finally get SUNNY around here? Plus (and I know I’m on thin ice here having just come back from the Carribean and all) but it’s coooooold! The panzanella looks awesome – how can i resist anything with homemade croutons?

  12. so what you’re saying is that you let balthazaar bread go stale???

    DEB, YOU ARE ONE SPOILED NY’ER !!!

    the red onion is killer in that photo. unlike the poor yet amazing cauliflower dish that suffers from monochraomacity. yes, it is a word. a new word.

    sounda great – looks amazing
    i’ve never made a panzanella before…

  13. elizabeth

    i’m in vermont and it’s snowing and i have none of the ingredients. making a note to pick them up tomorrow though!

  14. Jeff

    I remember winters in NY, the first couple of months are fine, scenic, you get to wear jackets and sweaters with I love. Warm drinks and heavy food, eggnog and mulled cider, yum. Christmas is not the same without snow. I miss NY in December.

    Then there are the last couple months of winter. Everything is gray and covered with mud. You haven’t seen the sun in so long you can’t even remember. You start desperately looking for any sign that it will end. Your jackets and sweaters have lost their charm and you long for shorts and flip flops. Those last couple months drag on for so long.

    This weekend it will be in the 70s and the farmers market is going to reopen. My balcony has herbs blooming and the birds wake me through my open windows in the morning. The Azaleas are in bloom and my flip flops are by the door. I don’t miss NY this time of year.

    Ask me again in 2 months when it is 100 in June.

    — Wilmington, NC

  15. stella

    We had strawberries on sale! Last week! and mangos! On Sale! Sorry, I haven’t lived in AZ that long and these things are still exciting to me. I will ship you some FedEx, but don’t think it would be cost effective. But if it makes you feel better in July we will be crying.

  16. Well, the rumors of summer in San Francisco are not really true. It’s still cold, and still windy. I, too, am ridiculously tired of my winter clothes. I’ve been dying to go around the house in a tank top, shorts, and flip-flips, but of course the moment I think I can, it’s freezing again. I need comfort food, that’s for sure.

  17. ugh. I can’t second (3rd? 4th?) these sentiments enough. I am so tired of grey skies & cold. Where in the world is the darn sun??? I miss farmer’s markets… :( This post almost makes me feel like I’m there buying fresh veggies, though! :) Looks delicious!

  18. Fabulous – I’ve long had the winter panzanella version bookedmarked to try but there was something holding me back from trying it. Obviously I was waiting for you to come up with the idea of adding some beans! Great idea

  19. Kim

    I too was struck by the fact that you let a loaf of bread go stale from Balthazar. This is a first stop for me when I head to the big city. I have been one of those shameful spring gloaters; as our produce is plenty and has been for awhile. But on the other hand, unlike you we do not have a decent bakery in Charleston. Next time you plan on letting a loaf go stale, please send it here, I’ll pay the postage.

  20. Jeannine

    Perhaps don’t drain the water ‘cuz you are going to bring it up to a boil again and just to cook the asparagus for 3 minutes!I’m going to run out to my asparagus patch to see if any of the little darlings have poked their nose through the ground. When I can eat asparagus from my garden, I know Spring has arrived!

  21. johanna

    this is the perfect early spring recipe! lovely. thanks deb for this great idea. i’ve just made it for lunch, sans leeks, and with the addition of hot pink watermelon radish chunks. i also threw in some fresh herbs – parsley, scallion, basil for good measure.

  22. Wow. I love panzanella in it’s classic form and I love your version. You are right, it is like spring in a bowl. I too am reading blogs in Paris and San Francisco with envy! In London here today it is snowing, quite heavily actually. It has settled and everything is covered in a snowy blanket. It’s pretty and romantic nut wrong wrong wrong! I want sun!

  23. I love making panzanella at any time of year. Once you get over the need for tomatoes, which is just impossible to fulfill in the winter here in the Northeast. a panzanella can be anything. I love making it with roasted vegetables all year round.

  24. nan

    No spring in Utah, and I am sorely disappointed. We had two days of sun at home (Seattle) so I guess that was our spring – summer will arrive July 5, as usual. This sounds great – maybe it’s what I need to push the gray away while waiting for my grandson! Thanks!

  25. deb

    We went to the Greenmarket yesterday in Union Square during that fluke, 60-degree and sunny day, and I was all set to buy ramps and other spring goodies but ha! There were nothing but potatoes, carrots, onions and other assorted root vegetables, if you all want a preview–or should I say “warning”–of what is coming this week!

  26. What a wonderful recipe and gorgeous photos!

    As an East coaster currently living out west in Los Angeles, I feel a guilty pang being able to have the pleasure of experiencing Spring. Your photos of spring-fresh asparagus, however, makes me happy that I can go to the farmer’s market and get all the fresh produce your delicious recipe calls for!

    May spring come to you soon,
    Brooke

  27. Oh what a beautiful burst of Spring to cheer us all up! I thought Spring had finally arrived last week (London, UK), but woke this morning to find it snowing! In April. But as soon as I see the new season asparagus, I think I’ll be making this delicious panzanella – thank you for the idea!

  28. Wow! Spring in a bowl.

    Well, it is in the 70s here now and pollen is making every car the same color. I stay inside lest I cry and sneeze. I will however be attempting this dish. I never made anything like this and yet it looks soooooo good.

    Thanks for this one Deb.

  29. Wow this looks amazing, the colours are so vibrant!!! If it’s any consolation, it snowed a little here in Ireland today and we don’t get snow!! Took myself off to Italy last week for some sun and fun and it rained for most of the week and then it was like the summer the day we left – typical!!!:)

  30. I already left a comment saying that this looks wonderful, but I thought I’d let you know that I made it last night, and it was great. It’s a salad that really tastes like spring. My husband has already requested that I make it again. Thanks again for a great recipe!

  31. Veeta

    This looks fantastic–I love “updating” classics for the seasons. May I make a suggestion? If you can find fava beans, they’d make a good sub for the white beans–quite springy as well!

  32. Jen

    A friend and I made your lemon bars this weekend. Yum, yum, yum. My co-workers are loving me on this gloomy Monday Minnesota morning.

  33. I made this last night. My store had no leeks so I subbed yellow squash which I already had. I also squirted out too much mustard in the vinegrette BUT it was still amazing.
    This is going to be something I make a lot.

  34. Oh man do I know how you feel about yearning for spring. I live in Utah and we have continued to have snow storms and rain storms. But I know in about 3 months I will be complaining it is too damn hot!
    I am out to buy bread today, so we can have this yummy looking salad next week.

    SHHHHHHHH….This is going to give the one my mom and sister make a run for their $$$$

  35. Becky

    The pics are gorgeous, this looks declicious. Do you think you could cut the leeks into sections first (while they’re still raw and easy to cut) and saute them instead of simmering then cutting?

  36. Glenn

    Delicious dish! I didn’t have any leeks, so used some carrots, broccoli and green beans along with grilled onions…delicious!

  37. mooshoo

    hi, no slippery leeks under knifes allowed with my luck I’d loose a finger…..
    Any reason why you can’t chop the leeks first, then rinse really well, then simmer?
    then use a smallish basket strainer to remove, or change to new water, or even add the asparagus in 3 min before the leeks finish?
    I await your reply so I may begin thx for the great site!

  38. deb

    Becky and Mooshoo — The reason I didn’t suggest this is that I expected the leeks to fall apart if boiled already cut. If you try it, however, let us know how it goes.

  39. Yum! I tried this the other night, and made myself sick because I couldn’t stop eating it! I have never tried leeks (I know…I probably should), so I just substituted some green beans. It was delish! I have to admit that the croutons were probably my favorite part. I used some bread that had whole cloves of garlic cooked into it, and used a little extra parmesean. Oh man…it was awesome. Thanks for another inspired dish Deb!

  40. Hillary

    i absolutely loved this! great, wonderful recipe. i also subbed the leeks for green beans. i used sourdough bread for the croutons and they turned out perfect!

  41. Judy

    I made this tonight for a dinner party and it came out great! I made a lot of changes though: I roasted the asparagus and leeks with some olive oil. I also roasted strips of red pepper and some halved grape tomatoes. I added fava beans (from a can) and pine nuts. It was very tasty and pretty. I think the roasting of the veggies makes it better because of the slight carmelization. This recipe lends itself to many variations! Thanks for the idea. I will make it again- just vary the veggies with the season.

  42. Michelle

    I have recently stumbled upon your website and i love it!!! i was wondering if you could start adding how many servings each recipe is supposed to be for? thanks!

  43. kati

    Delicious!

    two notes to self: overcooking leeks is bad bad bad – leek mush is not delish. and using braised asparagus from the deli department is also not recommended – asparagus tip mush is worse perhaps than leek mush.

    But the vinegarette was awesome and the flavor combination (on the bites that were the appropriate consistency) was super good.

  44. sjp

    Great recipe. I made with with what I had in the fridge: broccoli, ramps, arugula and red onion. I used white beans and added a bit of soy sour cream to the dressing and increased the lemon juice. I also added a bit of thyme and oregano The croutons were whole wheat. Ok, so not the same dish but it was terrific, filling and very satisfying. It seemed very Greek in the end but your recipe was the inspiration. Thanks!

  45. This recipe was SO wonderful. I replaced the beans with edemame and added quatered artichokes, sliced mushrooms, green beans and shoepeg corn to the veggies. OMG! It was delicious.

    I love your blog and your recipes. So far the tiramisu cake has been my favorite!!

  46. Carey

    Made this recipe today and it was a smash except for the leeks. Cooked them but didn’t use them in the salad. Found that cooking them in water left them water-logged and unappealing. Would suggest roasting them or pan frying them instead. This is a wonderful base recipe and next time I think I’ll add green beans and roasted grape tomatoes. Thanks for the recipe!

  47. since i am looking up this recipe AGAIN for the twentieth time since you posted it last april i thought i would quickly comment and say how much I LOVE IT!! i make it every time i need a little treat. sometimes the croutons are all gone before it’s time to add them and i just can’t figure out HOW that happens…

  48. I made this last night, and it was a great success. Hubby didn’t like the leeks (!), maybe they were a tad bit overcooked, but overall the dish was awesome! I added dandelion greens, arugula, and some teeny little fava beans. I think that was all. Instead of cutting the bread, I tore it up, a al Zuni Cafe’s chicken with salad. Which makes me think currants or something like that would be another great addition. Thank you for this recipe!

  49. typo: i meant alla Zuni Cafe’s chicken with salad (and i’m too lazy to look up the correct name for THAT awesome recipe). I visit Zuni every time I’m in SF. yum!

  50. I have been looking at this recipe for almost a year now. Finally made it..AMAZING!!!! I just need to cut the leeks a bit smaller for husband. He loves the flavor though. I just LOVE IT PERIOD!! Thank you, Thank you!

  51. cabernetpixi

    I made this last night, but I had a decidedly onion-hating crew to feed. I left out the onions and leeks and did add the green beans. (Green beans are almost always readily available in Oregon.) It was amazing!

  52. I just made this (like, an hour ago) for mothers day and it was a HIT. between 6 people it disappeared! except i used fresh bread and didnt really chop the leeks too well because they got mushy and weird. but they luvvved it, thank you so much for this recipe! i’ve been meaning to make it for ever.

  53. Jennifer

    This was fabulous just as I suspected it would be. I sauteed the asparagus and leeks separately in oil on the stove top then did the croutons in the pan too. I thought this streamlined the process a bit and used just one pan and one bowl. Tasted the great the next day too.

  54. emily

    hi deb – i’m all set to make this during the weekend as its finally starting to be spring-like here in Austin. I was wondering what you think though about substituting edamame for the white beans? I love the super bright lime color.

  55. alison

    I too thought the white beans were pine nuts, put them on my grocery list, so I’m throwing them in. What salad can’t benefit from some pine nuts?

    Also accidentally cut the root ends off the leeks before cooking so they did fall apart, basically. Hoping the guests don’t mind the ruined aesthetics there.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  56. this is one of my favorite smittenkitchen recipes of all times! making it right now. I follow the recipe pretty closely, but do omit the leeks and replace with green beans. it’s such a good light but satisfying spring dish.

  57. Marisa

    I made this last night for dinner and am having the leftovers for lunch today, delicious! Also, for people having trouble with the leeks — mine looked very soggy and waterlogged when I pulled them out too, but I chopped as best I could and then put them in a strainer to get out some of the extra liquid. Once they were incorporated into the salad, they were fine, and really about the same consistency as they would be sauteed in butter or some other preparation.

  58. Thanks for this recipe. I made it Sunday for dinner at my Sister’s home. I hanged it up a bit. No beans ( I didn’t have any) and I roasted the leeks. I also roasted the asparagus, but first I used a vegetable peeler to shave it. Then I used a raw sheep’s milk cheese instead of parmesan. It worked well together. Thanks again.

  59. Ok. I know it has taken me a while to get to this one…but man OH man was this is a winner! The leeks were well worth the effort and my dinner party was a delicious success! I can’t wait for your cookbook!

  60. Mollie

    This was the ‘Smitten Kitchen Recipe That Started the Obsession’

    Last June at a party I attended a girl made this recipe. I could not stop eating it. I ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. Then I ate more. Then I asked WHERE DID YOU FIND THIS!?!?!

    And she said…

    ‘Have you heard of smitten kitchen?’

    And so it began, this was my first obsession on the site, which moved to 100’s of other recipes.. Some of my favorites being the Chana, Car Bomb/Stout Cake and Spinach Quiche…:)

    Thanks, and eagerly awaiting the cookbook!

  61. Anne

    Okay, I know I’m late to the game here but did anyone report back on roasting the veggies rather than blanching them? I am thinking 350 so the leeks don’t brown too much. Also, you could throw some shrimp in the oven (or chicken) and just toss in at then end. Then all you would need is a bottle of crisp white wine….Unless you are in my household, then you would get the wine first and think about dinner after a glass or two.

    Hope you baby is sleeping again….don’t fret too much; my oldest stopped sleeping too. He’s elven now. Other than having that moody tween thing going for him he’s just fine.

  62. amanda

    Yummers. Made this last night and replaced the leeks with carrots since my fiancé has a leek-phobia. Besides reducing the amount of oil I kept everything the same and it turned out great. I have a newfound love of cannelli beans and their addictive creaminess. Thanks!

  63. Eureka! Your “Surprise Me” button has delivered once again. I’ve made the Michael Chiarello winter panzanella (big fan) and have been eyeing it in my bookmarks lately, but it just didn’t feel right. Now I have a cure for my panzanella woes. Can’t believe I’ve never stumbled upon this recipe before. And can’t wait to try it.

  64. thady

    That was YUM, thanks – though, when those crunchy, delicious, garlicy croutons came wafting out of my tiny oven, I couldn’t help but feel it was a waste to let them cool – I would certainly consider doing them last, and scattering them hot over the cooled panzanella, if only for the smells…

  65. Kelly

    GREAT. I made this tonight for dinner along w/ your sweet and smokey spare ribs and not your mother’s cole slaw. I finished off w/ the berry buttermilk cake recipe here. A full smitten kitchen meal for 20. Thanks, as always.

  66. karen d

    my husband made this for us for dinner tonight, and it was *amazing*. i am pregnant, so certainly quite fond of a lot of food these days… but seriously, i could not stop gushing about how delicious and perfect all of the flavors came together in this dish. and the croutons…couldn’t stop eating them. thanks for making tonight’s dinner such a treat. :)

  67. Sheila

    Made this last night, with fresh bread and asiago instead of the parmesan, the croutons were terrific. I found that preparing the asparagus and leeks this way was a little messy and made them come out mushy. So when I make this again I’d roast the leeks and the asparagus already chopped up. Other than that, the flavor was fantastic.

  68. Giulia

    This sounds soooo good! But have you ever tried to the traditional panzanella? I am from Tuscany where this is a typical dish. It is a lot easier to make and still very good…just soak the dry bread, ring it out, mix it with whatever salad veggies you have in your garden (cucumber, tomato, onion, radish, carrot….) and dress with oil and salt. Takes 5 minutes and it’s very simple and good. That is real Italian cooking.

  69. Beth

    After a 3 hour veggie garden prep resulted in a “what are we going to eat?” dinner last night consisting of reheated mini quiches, 3 bagel dogs and a veggie buffalo wing (husbands!), I was determined to make something tasty and healthy tonight. This recipe is PERFECT because I received asparagus AND leeks in the last pickup of my Winter CSA. I’m planning on doing the roast as well, just becasue I think it will work better in my clumsy preggo hands. Though the unborn pistachio didn’t complain last night, I’m hoping for many kicks of appreciation after this! Thanks again, Jen!

  70. Maureen & Dan

    Great recipe! It successfully walks the line between being light but satisfying. Next time we’ll use less onion in the dressing.

  71. I had everything to make this except for the leeks. As a substitute I blanched a few new onions (<1" dia) with the asparagus, then sliced them up.

  72. Pauline

    The salad looks very yum, but it’s not panzanella tho. Panzanella is very tuscan speciality. It’s made of traditional tuscan bread, which in the recipe is not toasted on oil at all, viceverse, it’s dampened with bit of water.

  73. Melissa

    This is exactly what I’m looking for right now. I plan to double this and stretch the asparagus (it’s still like $7 a lb here) with green beans since the sauce is similar to other green bean dishes I’ve enjoyed. Is it ok to be lazy and use thawed frozen (skinny) green beans? I believe they are blanched before freezing but do you think they would become too watery (even I drained them after thawing). Ps, this is my first comment but I love your site and you and I are very much alike in the cooking realm!

  74. Hilary

    Ha! I was planning on making another quiche/tart tonight for dinner, but it is feeling so tired after making it several times this winter. I remembered bread salad on my walk to work and thought it was a more of spring thing to do with my (winter) kale. I’ve made versions of your recipe many times, so came to search it out. You posted this almost exactly 5 years ago to the day when you were waiting for spring. I guess it must be the week for hopeful bread salad on our plates!!

  75. Gen

    I know this is an older recipe, but I wonder if anyone has had problems with the croutons getting soggy. Did I just put too much dressing on? Are they supposed to get soft? Is there a way to avoid this? Thanks!

  76. Wendy

    Hi! Loved this. Question about the leeks though – do you bring the water to a boil and then simmer? The leeks were good, but a tad chewy, which made me thing I had misinterpreted the directions.
    Thanks!

  77. Michelle

    Two questions – 1) How many people do you think this would serve. 2) How long does the salad keep once it’s tossed? I want to make it for a teacher appreciation lunch and will have to dress it a few hours before it’s eaten.

  78. Katina

    To avoid the slippery leek problem, I snipped them with kitchen shears once they were cooked and I had dried them off. A great recipe.

  79. Sarah

    Making this again and it’s so good! Try cooking the asparagus first, that way if you didn’t get all the grit out of the leeks it doesn’t end up on the asparagus.

  80. Just made this with the fresh asparagus and leeks I got from the local farmer’s market and it was a great success. The combination is absolutely delicious and the croutons provide a lovely crunch. Thanks, Deb!

  81. Angela

    Well despite my best effort to the contrary, this dish turned out delicious. Served alongside some sausages, it was an unexpectedly perfect, light summertime dinner! A couple things I’ll do differently next time to improve upon my execution of the recipe: (1) toss the bread with just the olive oil (or maybe the oil & garlic), and THEN add the cheese, S&P. I mixed all the toppings together first and the cheese “soaked up” the oil and clumped together. Thus, it wouldn’t stick to the bread and baked into crispy cheese while in the oven. Amazingly, the bread was still delicious on its own, and the flavor of the final product didn’t seem compromised.
    (2) not overcook the veggies. I simply didn’t know what I was doing. I cooked the asparagus past crisp-tender, and was lost on the method of the leeks. They weren’t awful, but a little softer than I would’ve liked. Even so, they still worked.
    What a great dish – delicious even in the hands of bumbling cook! (And I don’t really like leeks or asparagus – but I LOVE your blog, so thought I’d trust your palate over mine, and it turned out!).

  82. I’ve made this many times over the years and I haven’t ran across a soul that didn’t love it. But my wife is super health oriented so the oil and croutons were a problem. I made it with half the oil and used brown wheat-chex instead of the croutons and it was very good. Soak the chex gently in garlic and Italian herb mix infused water overnight and then dehydrate them. No oil, few calories and they add the much needed crunch. Halving the oil made no difference at all.