With fresh greens, toasted whole grain bread, and crunchy fennel, this Asparagus Panzanella Salad screams spring in every possible way. Simple to throw together, and full of flavor, this salad is perfect for a weeknight dinner topped with an over easy egg, served alongside grilled fish, or packed up for a potluck or backyard get together.
This spring panzanella salad is best with good quality, seedy, multi-grain bakery bread and any bold green you can get your hands on. I love using a bitter green like arugula, mustard greens, or kale but spinach offers its own tender simplicity to this salad as well, which I used here. Otherwise, this panzanella salad is pretty simple, and sometimes those are the best kinds of recipes.
As I’ve gotten older my dread of spring has luckily subsided with a love for the season quietly sliding in to take its place. It sounds silly and, looking back now, I regret allowing myself to ignore the beauty and be sidetracked from the essence of new beginnings that spring has to offer.
As a kid, spring and fall were the worst seasons for my environmental allergies, and I’m not just allergic to a few things. I’m allergic to everything. Everything that isn’t food related, that is. Beyond the massive, puffy, watering eyes, the constant sneezing, and the rubbed-raw nose — which I matured out of due to weekly shots — I still found a way to dread spring.
It simply came down to something I was so incredibly passionate about. Something that held all of the stakes in my eyes.
Silly, I know. Spring through summer, 3rd grade through 12th, I was always on the track. In my mind, everything was on the line once I stepped onto that rubber oval. Every practice was a challenge to see how far I could push myself. Every meet was more important than the last. Each second in a race, or each inch in the high jump brought along such a heavy weight that it began to define me.
The nerves started to seep into the two, three, even four days leading up to a meet. Dread and nervousness went hand-in-hand with a queasy stomach, sleepless nights, and general unease. My passion and drive became blinders in my real life. I lived and breathed each race, hindering my ability to see the world around me, or to recognize that the world kept turning no matter what time I got in the 400m.
To this day I still get a queasy stomach at the first signs of spring, or when I think about a race, and although I run long distance now, I still have the sprinter mentality ingrained in me. Every second counts, there’s no such thing as pacing, and you better just run like hell and give it all you’ve got “you only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, you better…” Eminem anyone?!?
Beyond running, this mindset has seeped into my work, especially here, on this site that has taken over that deep, competitive passion I once had for track. Although now the drive to push myself has been redirected to blogging, photographing, writing, and recipe development. I don’t get a queasy stomach and I don’t get nervous, but the racing attitude hasn’t been lost.
Finding a balance between my full-time job, blogging, friends, family, and myself is a challenge. Especially when my passion for this site continually tugs on me so strongly. I often find myself caught in the middle of wanting to devote as much time as I possibly can, and experiencing frustration with the slow, molasses-like growth.
I’ve recently been listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, hosted by Bjork Ostrom (husband to Linsday of Pinch of Yum) and he recently talked about the importance of acknowledging your career, business, and/or blogging goals as a journey, not a sprint. He shared the idea that we often overestimate what we can do in a year but grossly underestimate what we can do in a decade. And although I hope to find success sooner than 10 years from now, it’s a great reminder that our journey doesn’t have to be a sprint. Our story can be narrated through thoughtful, directed, intentional actions taken everyday that results in success over the long term. A few bloggers or entrepreneurs may get lucky and find success in a year or so, but slowing down, appreciating what we already have, and realizing that success doesn’t happen overnight — it happens over time — is something I’m working hard to embrace.
As a sprinter, I want to see immediate growth, change, and improvement. But in reality, life isn’t like that for most of us. So, I’m making a commitment to myself to keep my head high, my goals in focus, and to make thoughtful, intentional actions each and every day that will benefit my objective in the long run.
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and bias sliced into 2-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups torn seedy whole-grain bread (staled)
- 1 can (15 oz.) white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fresh spinach, arugula, or mustard greens, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup thinly sliced fennel bulb
- ½ cup green onions, bias sliced into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup lightly packed parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, 2 tablespoons oil, Dijon, and garlic; season with salt and pepper.
- Blanch asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, immediately strain and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Once asparagus is cool, drain.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium, add bread and toast until golden brown on all sides, 2–3 minutes.
- Add asparagus, toasted bread, beans, spinach, fennel, onions, and parsley to bowl with vinaigrette; toss to coat then transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fennel fronds and additional parsley, if desired.
As I continually strive to make this a site of inspiration, wholesome recipes, and balanced living, I’d love to hear from you. What do you want to see? Are there cooking, product, or kitchen questions you have? Don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to hear from you!
Cooking up some ZK or seasonal recipes? Snap a photo and share it on social media with the #zestfulkitchen hashtag. I’d love to see what you’re cookin’ up!