Spring Panzanella & Sweet Potato Gnocchi

We are celebrating the official–and continual–birth of our project with what some people might call “fancy food.” And yet this food is some of the quickest and easiest to throw together. Humongous thanks and shout out to super star photographer Edison Koo. If you like what you see here, check out his website at edisonkoo.tumblr.com.

Asparagus & Cannelini Bean Panzanella

For the salad:

1 bunch asparagus
6 oz spring mix, or other greens of choice
1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 loaf fresh ciabatta or French bread
4 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
optional: 1/2 red onion, 1/2 ripe avocado, 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Panzanella is just a fancy word for an Italian bread salad. Usually they are made with peppers, onions, tomatoes, basil, and large, freshly made croutons. This particular version is spring-themed, but feel free to experiment!

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse vegetables. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan. Mince garlic and stir into oil until fragrant but not burned. Chop asparagus into 2 inch chunks. You can also split the asparagus lengthwise if you have less or like thinner slices. Toss into the pan with the garlic and oil and sprinkle lemon juice and zest over the mixture. Cover for 5 minutes.

While the asparagus is cooking, cube your bread into 1-inch or smaller pieces. (You do want a loaf from a bakery, rather than a plastic bag, but luckily in this instance stale bread is actually an asset to your meal. So if your local bakery throws out day-old bread, hop on it! Your panzanella will be extra delicious.) Spread on a baking sheet and toss in a tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley if you desire. Toast in oven for 5 minutes. At the last minute, turn on the broiler and open the oven an inch or two. Take the croutons out when they are just sandpapery and brittle to the touch.

so simple; so delicious

Add cannelini beans to your sauteed asparagus and stir to combine and heat the beans.

Meanwhile you can mix a simple dressing, adjusting ratios for taste. Combine your oil, vinegar, mustard, and spices in a small jar with a spout. Don’t be afraid to add a dash of honey if you like your salads sweet.

Assemble your salad! Toss the bean concoction with dressed salad greens and croutons (as well as cubed avocado or thinly sliced red onion, if you like). Sprinkle with finely grated parmesan and serve warm.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi:

1 large sweet potato
12 oz full fat ricotta cheese
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp salt

optional: 1/2 tsp nutmeg + 2 Tbsp brown sugar


Preheat oven to 350. Stab sweet potato repeatedly with fork, piercing skin and beyond, about 1/4″ into potato.

Browned butter sauce:

12 Tbsp butter

fistful of parsley OR sage, minced finely

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan


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