Warm panzanella with fresh green garlic, asparagus, tarragon, lemon zest and chevre with a perfect runny-yolk poached egg on top. This vegetarian entree is perfect for a busy weeknight in spring. It comes together in under 30 minutes!
On Wednesday night I got to pretend that I was in a bizarre parallel game show universe for 12 heart-pounding minutes and the end result was dinner.
Let me tell you about the dinner first. I am trying to type how good this asparagus panzanella is, but it is literally making my mouth water just conjuring up the taste of it. How do I describe it without regressing straight into Homer Simpson gurgling noises? I’ll try. You know how asparagus with béarnaise sauce tastes? Take that flavor combination to start, but then add the texture of panzanella. You know that half chewy half sogged-out bread soaked in savory juicy olive oil dressing texture? Add a pop of creamy goat cheese and the tarragon green garlic sauce which soaks into the bread and renders the whole thing redolent of garlic. Damn! If you don’t try this one I may get mad at you actually.
So you want to hear about the game show excitement proabably? K, well that was a blast too.
I got invited by Healthy Living Market, here in Vermont to participate in their Spring Meal Challenge which they sponsored with the hopes that they can convey that they have some great deals and are generally more affordable than you might think. This being a highly curated health food store, I thought that sounded like a tough message for them to get across, but that the Spring Meal Challenge sounded like a ton of fun and I was up for the challenge.
We arrived at 5:30, and after a frazzled afternoon of final edits on my cookbook I was super glad they were pouring ice cold rosé. At 6pm on the nose the 12 or so participants headed to the front of the store and gathered shopping baskets. We had a budget of $30 and a wad of coupons for certain sale items (I knew I wanted to use the coupons for the green garlic, organic lemons and local eggs because the idea for this asparagus panzanella was already forming in my mind for the meal I wanted to make.)
They put 12 minutes on the clock and away we went! Our goal was to gather the ingredients we would need to cook a meal for a family of four and stay within our budget of $30.
Since I am like a supermarket savant and could tell you where every single thing in the entire maze-like store is located, or any grocery store in the area for that matter, I got to the register with my basket full of healthy spring items and two minutes to spare. BUUUUT, when I went for my coupons to pay I realized that I hadn’t gotten the eggs! So away I went again. Eeek!!! More heart pounding!
I got back in time and my final bill was $29.65! I literally jumped and cheered at the register. (I don’t get out much.)
So last night for dinner I got to work with the ingredients. I used some of everything in my bag of groceries to make this panzanella with what I bought. Well except for the $1.44 of pitted Castelvetrano olives that I bought because I am a total olive freak and they just looked so good! I’ll have to eat those as I type! I have half of the bread left over, half of the green garlic and 8 eggs too. Sounds like the makings of breakfast this weekend! So all told I would say that I really made out well with my $30 dollars. Not only that I stand to win a $100 gift card to Healthy Living if my meal is selected as the best one (and most creative use) from all of the contestants. Wish me luck!
Do you remember that game show about the supermarket? What was that called?
What would you have bought for the 30 dollars?
Have you ever had asparagus with béarnaise sauce?
Food bloggers, and recipe testers are you a supermarket savant?
Warm bread salad or Panzanella made with asparagus and green garlic with lemon zest, tarragon and chevre, topped off with a poached egg.
- ½ pound day-old bread, cut into small bite-sized cubes
- splash of white vinegar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ cup chopped and washed green garlic *see ingredient note
- 1 cup Imagine no-chicken broth or reduced sodium-chicken broth
- 1 1-lb bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
- ½ cup crumbled fresh chevre
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread bread on a large baking sheet. Bake until dried out but not hard, about 8 minutes. Alternatively, leave the cubed bread out on a baking sheet for the day to allow it to stale on its own.
- Bring several inches of water plus a splash of white vinegar to a boil over high heat in a wide sauté pan or deep skillet. Crack eggs one at a time into a small ramekin and then slide into the water. Keep an eye on the boil/simmer of the water. The temperature of the water should drop from the cold eggs. When it comes back up to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. If the water is boiling, reduce heat. Cook eggs 4 minutes for runny yolks. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a clean towel.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green garlic and cook, stirring often until the garlic is softened and starting to brown slightly. Add broth, asparagus and salt and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover the skillet and allow asparagus to cook until crisp tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a large bowl.
- Add the tarragon, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the bowl and stir to combine. Add the bread and toss to coat. Divide the bread salad among 4 wide bowls. Top with the chevre and poached eggs. Serve with fresh pepper on top and lemon wedges on the side.
*ingredient note: Green garlic is tender immature garlic bulbs available only in the spring. You'll need about ½ bunch of green garlic for this recipe. Clean and wash green garlic as you would leeks. Discard tough woody dark green parts. Slice pale green and white parts lengthwise, and then wash in a bowl of cold water. Drain and dry on a plate lined with a paper towel. For step-by-step photos of this process see this post I did about cutting and cleaning leeks. If you cannot find green garlic, substitute 1 ½ cups chopped washed leeks plus 1 clove garlic, minced.
Some other recipes that you might like from the archives: