Spring Vegetable Panzanella with Poached Eggs

April 21, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: To make this, you don't have to plug your ears and beeline to the market for the last ramps and the first garlic scapes. You don't have to ask your friends to be quiet so you can concentrate on the preparation. When you sit down to eat, you might be hushed for a few minutes, enjoying the greenness you never thought would come again, but you will resume conversation. You will have time to ask your dinner companions what they think, to make a list of things you're grateful for, to think and read about things other than peas.

But if you don't want to—if you want to take a break, just for a minute—add a poached egg, slice it open, and let the lemon-yellow yolk remind you that there is comfort food even when comfort food is out of season.
Sarah Jampel

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients

For the panzanella:

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 baguette or 1 small loaf of ciabatta (225 grams), cut into 1-inch cubes (between 3 and 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut crosswise into very thin circles or half-moons, cleaned, and dried
  • 1 bunch asparagus (340 grams), woody ends snapped off and cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups (380 grams) English peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 2 large handfuls (220 grams) snow peas, ends trimmed
  • 1 splash (1 to 2 teaspoons) balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup small, uneven cubes Parmesan
  • Eggs, 1 or 2 per person, for poaching (optional)

For the pesto:

  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Salt, to taste
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. You'll start by preparing the bread. In a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the bread and 1 teaspoon salt and stir so that all of the cubes are coated in oil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread is golden brown and toasty. Transfer to your serving bowl and wipe out the large pan.
  2. As the bread toasts, make the pesto. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the herbs, nuts, garlic, and about half of the olive oil. Process until everything is uniformly chopped and you've got a green paste. With the motor running, stream in the rest of the olive oil until your paste is thinner, smoother, and paler. Add the Parmesan and pulse until it is incorporated. Taste the pesto and adjust the salt as necessary (you might not need to add salt considering the salt content of the Parmesan).
  3. If you're worried about the pesto browning, transfer it to an airtight container. Otherwise, proceed with the recipe.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the large pan over medium-low heat. Add the leek and a fat pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the leek has started to break down and is a creamy mess, 5 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to cook the leek too fast—you want it to disintegrate slowly.
  5. Once the leek is cooked, add the asparagus pieces and sauté, stirring frequently, until bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Next, add the peas and stir until similarly vivid, 2 to 3 more minutes. Taste your vegetables to make sure they're still peppy but not raw.
  6. Dump the vegetables from the pan onto the toasty bread cubes. Add the snow peas and the pesto. (I added all of the pesto and found it to be the perfect amount, but add half, mix it all up, and see where you are—that's less risky.) Add the balsamic, lemon juice, pepper, and Parmesan and mix well so that all of the bread and all of the vegetables are shiny with pesto.
  7. Give your panzanella some time to relax and loosen up as you poach the eggs, 1 or 2 per person. I use Heidi Swanson's technique, described here: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/poached-eggs-over-rice-recipe.html.
  8. Scoop the panzanella into bowls and gingerly position a poached egg (or 2) over each bowl. Eat!

More Great Recipes:
Salad|Egg|Leek|Pea|Vegetable|Make Ahead|Weeknight Cooking|Spring|Vegetarian|Entree|Side|Appetizer

Reviews (11) Questions (0)

11 Reviews

Rita V. June 25, 2018
I made it today! I ate it today! And ate, and ate and ate and ate... OMG! With the creamy poached egg... OH MY! And I know I can play with it... so it's a gift that keeps giving!
 
Bridget June 18, 2018
I did this as a side along with grilled salmon and it was fantastic! We had 8 for dinner so I doubled the recipe but next time I make this I won’t bother. Unless this is the only thing on the table I would just make it as written, there was more than enough to go around and we have lots of leftovers. I did soft boiled eggs so I could do them ahead of time, to me that was a bit easier than poaching for that many people. I’ll make this again for sure!
 
designingmama September 1, 2017
I keep coming back to this recipie over and over. Easy, adaptable and versatile! Thank you.
 
cindy May 20, 2017
Made this with a fried egg on top ! Easier! Delicious! <br />
 
Lauren June 13, 2016
This was really really good! I added some lemon zest to the bread after they were done toasting and it really took them up a notch. Also used a garlic scape pesto instead of the one listed. The poached egg on top ties everything together so nicely!
 
kaleandsalt August 13, 2015
Excellent and adaptable recipe! I recently did a summer version, subbing sliced zucchini and green beans for the asparagus and snow peas, and threw a few jalapeños into the pest. Delicious.
 
kschurms June 24, 2015
This is easily my new favorite spring recipe. Since my grocery store was lacking, I had to do without the english pea, and substituted kale for basil in the pesto -- but it doesn't matter, it was still amazing. I can't wait to try this with all of the proper ingredients!
 
Laura L. June 20, 2015
Very delicious. My favorite new summer recipe! I added some thinly sliced zucchini as well.
 
Mamazz May 31, 2015
this was amazing, even the teenagers loved it! we followed the recipe pretty closely and it worked out really well, although for the bread we used a half a loaf of wheat sourdough, which was really good- the addition of the poached egg makes it a substantial meal
 
SweetTooth May 28, 2015
Very delicious recipe! The pesto was spicy and fresh and very delicious with the vegetables. In fairness, I must admit that I used green onions instead of leek (since I bought the wrong thing) and no walnuts. I also added a spice mix from Penzey's called Sandwich Sprinkle to the bread. The poached egg on top of this is to die for, especially when the yolk mixes in with everything. I highly recommend this and will definitely make it again!
 
SweetTooth May 29, 2015
Edited to add: this reheats very well and makes excellent leftovers. I took the bread cubes out, toasted them in the oven, and then added them back to the veggies (which I warmed up a little in a pan. Perhaps even more delicious after getting time to sit in the fridge!