This Spring Panzanella Salad uses Hawaiian sweet rolls for a touch of sweetness (though regular crusty bread may be substituted).
For me, spring is all about the salad. I love big, beautiful, colorful salads that are bursting with flavor. They make me happy. This spring panzanella salad makes me very happy.
I used King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls to make the croutons. Any brand of Hawaiian sweet rolls would work; I first got the idea to use them like this when I made a Grilled Zucchini Salad with Feta and Sweet Croutons. They work wonderfully in place of regular bread to give the salad an added touch of sweetness. You can absolutely substitute regular crusty bread (or even make homemade hawaiian sweet rolls if you’re feeling adventurous). But the rolls really do give this salad a unique flavor.
You want to use stale rolls for this salad. I know that sounds weird, but most packaged rolls are so soft and delicate that they won’t do a great job holding their shape when you cut the croutons. And once you toast them they can still turn to mush after the salad has soaked with the vinaigrette. Letting the sweet rolls sit out for 2-4 days will not hurt them for the purposes of making this salad. It will help them retain their shape and texture which is so important with panzanella salad.
The second main ingredient in panzanella salad after bread is tomatoes. For best results I cut them as close in size to the croutons as possible.
In place of regular onions I’ve used one of my new favorites from the CSA basket, spring onions. These beauties are like scallions but larger and with small bulbs that can be used like regular white onions. I mostly use the pale green parts for this recipe. If you cannot find spring onions, scallions will work just fine.
Also included in the salad but not pictured individually are asparagus and artichokes. Two of my favorite vegetables! I did cheat and use canned artichokes in the salad but if you want to prep the fresh ones, by all means do so.
This salad is absolutely perfect for Mother’s Day. But I’ve also been enjoying it for lunch and plan to bring it to a picnic with friends very soon. It’s hearty, flavorful and beautiful. What more does one need in a salad?
Spring Panzanella Salad
for the salad
- 6 cups hawaiian sweet rolls (approximately 6-8 rolls; see notes)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8-10 stalks asparagus, tough ends removed, cut into thirds
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 4 vine tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup spring onions, sliced thin
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
for the vinaigrette
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cube the hawaiian sweet rolls and then toss them with the olive oil, garlic and salt. Spread into a single layer on a sheet pan and toast until crunchy and golden, stirring every few minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Steam the asparagus until tender and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl, toss together the toasted sweet rolls, asparagus, basil, tomatoes, spring onions and artichokes.
- Prepare the vinaigrette: In a jar with a tight fitting lid, shake together the olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Toss approximately 3/4 of the vinaigrette with the salad ingredients and allow everything to sit for 30 minutes to that the flavors mingle. If desired, add the remaining vinaigrette just before serving.
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