Here is a recipe for warm Asparagus Panzanella with a runny-yolk poached egg on top. This vegetarian entree is perfect for a brunch entree or a busy weeknight dinner in spring. It comes together in under 30 minutes!
As you know Panzanella, or Italian bread salad, is one of my all time favorite recipes. We had it at my wedding after all! I make it the traditional way with fresh garden-ripe tomatoes in the summer. (Try my Panzanella Salad with tomatoes and cucumbers some time! You won’t be sorry.) And later in the fall, I like to make warm Cherry Tomato Panzanella. But in the spring, I am all about using asparagus in it!
Ingredients For This Recipe
Panzanella always starts with cubes of somewhat stale bread. In this recipe I toast the bread too, so it really soaks up the juices of the panzanella for great texture and flavor. I like to use Italian Ciabatta for this recipe, but you could also use homemade whole-wheat bread or sourdough instead.
There is no need to cut off the crusts. If your bread is fresh, you can cut it into cubes and leave it out on a baking sheet for an hour or two before following the instructions for this recipe.
You will need a splash of white vinegar to add to your egg-poaching liquid. It helps the eggs hold together better. Another type of acid (like lemon juice) would work too.
To top the panzanella, I add on a poached egg for each portion. Not only does it provide protein to make this a complete meal, but the yolk helps to create a magical egg sauce that is wonderful with the bread.
Extra-virgin olive oil
To cook the green garlic I used a generous amount of oil. It becomes the dressing/liquid for the salad.
If you can find it, look for green garlic. It is available at stores that carry local produce and farmers’ markets. It looks like leeks, and has tapered white immature garlic bulbs at the root end. It tastes like garlic, but is more mild.
If you cannot find it, substitute 1 1/2 cups chopped and cleaned leeks, plus 1 clove garlic.
You will need to clean the green garlic, use the same technique you would for cleaning leeks.
Vegetable or chicken broth
Since this panzanella doesn’t have tomatoes, I used broth to make the “sauce’ for the bread. To keep it vegetarian you can use vegetable broth. My favorite vegetable broth is Imagine “No Chicken.” Of course if you eat poultry, you can use chicken broth instead.
The star of the show for this recipe is the asparagus. First snap off the woody ends of the stalks. Test each stalk individually. Where it naturally bends and breaks is where to snap! Next, cut the asparagus into bite-sized lengths.
Salt and pepper
You will need salt and pepper to season this recipe.
Chopped fresh tarragon
I adore the way tarragon tastes with spring veggies. I paired it with asparagus here in a vinaigrette.
For bright acidity and lemon flavor I used zest and juice. Lemon and asparagus are a match made in heaven!
To top off each portion I added on some crumbled fresh goat cheese. This is optional!
How To Make Asparagus Panzanella
Toast The Bread
So that the bread soaks up as much of the sauce and dressing, I like to toast it for several minutes to make it dry but not crispy.
Spread the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
Alternatively, you can spread the cubes out on the baking sheet and let them get stale on the counter overnight.
Cook the Veggie Mixture
While the bread is toasting, cook the veggies. [This is a non-traditional way of making panzanella, I should say! If the lack of tomatoes didn’t tip you off to begin!]
- Heat the oil and add the green garlic (or leeks plus garlic.) Cook it until the garlic is softened.
- Add in the broth, asparagus and salt and stir to combine everything. Cover the skillet and let it cook until the asparagus is tender, this takes 3 to 4 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the tarragon, lemon juice and lemon zest.
Poach The Eggs
Meanwhile, you will want to be poaching the eggs on another burner. Use a large deep skillet or wide dutch oven to do so.
- Bring several inches of water plus a splash of white vinegar to a boil over high heat. 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 and wait for it to simmer down.
- Gently slide the eggs into the water, keeping space between them. Leave them undisturbed in the skillet for 4 minutes for runny yolks.
- Remove from the water with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a clean towel.
To Finish The Panzanella and Serve
- Add the bread to the bowl with the hot veggie mixture and stir it well to allow the bread to soak up the broth and dressing.
- Portion the panzanella into shallow pasta bowls.
- Crumble the goat cheese over the panzanella.
- Carefully lay the poached egg on top of each one.
- Grind pepper over each serving, and add a lemon wedge to each bowl.
- Serve warm!
More Asparagus Recipes
This One Pot Chicken and Rice with Spring Veggies is bursting with asparagus and peas.
This Sesame Roasted Asparagus Salad elevates basic roasted asparagus with the addition of Asian Sesame Dressing.
This Roasted Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad is a vegetarian entree salad to try this spring.
This Shaved Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts is made with raw asparagus cut into ribbons with a veggie peeler.
This Frittata with Ham and Asparagus is another spring brunch entree to consider.
I also love to top steamed asparagus with my Greek Yogurt Hollandaise sauce.
Find more asparagus recipe ideas here.
Thanks so much for reading! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review!
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.
- Serving Size: 2 cups panzanella plus 1 egg
- Calories: 539
- Sugar: 2 g
- Fat: 31 g
- Saturated Fat: 9 g
- Carbohydrates: 45 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 24 g