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Vegan Panzanella Primavera

Bread Salad Vegan

Especially popular in Tuscany and Umbria, panzanella salad is usually composed of stale bread, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, fresh basil and an olive oil and vinegar dressing. Most people think of it as a summer dish. Inspired by this Italian bread salad, this spring vegan panzanella salad recipe uses broiled asparagus, arugula, lemon, cherry tomatoes and smoky tempeh bacon. It’s a new twist on a classic salad.

And the textures are awesome–crispy tempeh bacon, toasted bread cubes, broiled asparagus with fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes. It’s all some serious wow. And it works well as a meal or as a side dish for soup, like Zucchini Basil Soup.

A few notes...

  • ・You don’t have to use ciabatta. Really, any slightly stale, crusty Italian bread will work for this salad. Day old is best, because it’s easier to slice into cubes.
  • ・A non-stick wok or a large non-stick skillet work really well for this vegan panzanella recipe.
  • ・It tastes best right after it’s been assembled.

As a variation, add a handful of roasted pistachios at the end. It’s a little crunchy, and works well with the flavors.

A vegan Italian bread salad recipe with arugula, asparagus and tomatoes

Vegan Panzanella Primavera

2 cups asparagus sliced on a bias into bite size pieces

2½ Tbsp (+ more to drizzle), olive oil

1 tsp (+ more to drizzle) lemon juice

1 shallot, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup crumbled tempeh bacon (see note above – store bought or homemade)

1 loaf of ciabatta bread, cubed

1½ cup halved cherry tomatoes

½ cup arugula

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Vegan parmasen, to taste – optional

1.  Preheat oven to BROIL on HIGH (or ~525º F).  

2. Next, get started on the asparagus for the panzanella. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, and spread the asparagus across it in an even layer.  Drizzle the asparagus with ½ Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp lemon juice.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Move the asparagus around to coat it.

3. Broil the asparagus for 10 minutes in the oven. Closely monitor it through the broiling process, so it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven, flip the asparagus, and return to oven for ~5 more minutes or until it’s cooked through and a bit crispy. Remove from oven, and set aside.

4. In a large non-stick skillet (or wok), add 1 Tbsp olive oil, the shallots and garlic over low heat.  Sauté for 1 minute.  Then, add the tempeh bacon, and turn heat up to medium-high.  Fry the tempeh bacon until it’s crispy enough for you (I did mine for ~7 minutes). Then, spoon it into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

5.  Now, it’s time to toast the bread for the salad. Using the same skillet (or wok) that you fried the tempeh bacon in, add the cubed bread, drizzle it with 1 Tbsp olive oil, and stir it around over high heat until it’s toasted enough for you. I did about 5 minutes.

6. Next, you’ll want to infuse the toasted bread cubes with some of the flavor from the tempeh bacon. Add the tempeh bacon back into the skillet (or wok) with the toasted bread cubes. Stir it around over medium-low heat for another minute. Then, spoon the toasty bread cubes and the tempeh bacon into the large mixing bowl.

7. Add the roasted asparagus, cherry tomatoes, arugula, and vegan parmesan (if using) into the mixing bowl with the bread cubes and tempeh bacon.

8. Finally, drizzle everything with lemon juice (I squeezed ~1-2 tsp lemon juice on it) and olive oil, and season with salt and black pepper. Gently mix together and taste the vegan panzanella. Adjust seasonings, if needed (more salt? more lemon juice?). Serve immediately.  

A tasty vegan panzanella salad recipe with asparagus, tomatoes and tempeh bacon