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Spring Panzanella with Nori Vinaigrette

Spring Panzanella with Nori Vinaigrette

This panzanella is, for me, a celebration of spring's bounty—Mother Nature in a satin green robe. I got the idea of nori vinaigrette from an oyster bar in Maine (thought it was the smartest thing—a taste of seaside, inland). But most of all, when tomatoes are not yet at their ripest, it makes sense to take advantage of spring peas and shoots, sweet asparagus, and fresh herbs, fragrant and bountiful (mint, parsley, and basil). And, of course, the most important part of a classic panzanella is the Tuscan bread, crispy and chewy.

Nori Vinaigrette:
3 packs roasted seaweed snack
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, to start
Dribble sesame oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch sugar

Panzanella:
Small whole wheat baguette, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 shallot, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas, blanched in hot water for 1 minute, shocked in cold water, and drained
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch mint, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
Any spring greens of your liking
Pea sprouts

For the nori vinaigrette, process everything until smooth and velvety (add more olive oil as needed). These amounts are are just a general guideline; do everything to taste. It should be balanced: salty, vinegary, seaweedy, slightly sweet, intensely savory. It should pack some punch because it'll be diluted once spread out among salad greens.

For the panzanella, start by drizzling the bread cubes and shallot with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 10–15 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside (but not so crunchy it breaks like brittle).

The rest is just an assembly job: toss the peas, asparagus, mint, parsley, greens, pea sprouts, and shalloty baguette croutons with half of the vinaigrette to start. Taste and add more as needed (but don't drown it); season to taste with salt and pepper as well.

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