Erin’s Spring Panzanella with Fresh Peas and Fennel

Nearly forgot how much I love hearing live music. Is it not awful? I simply don’t attend events that come through town since I don’t have a reliable music companion. Jordan emailed me last night as I was taking pictures of this salad offering a totally last-minute, free ticket to see Ok Go. I’m “the friend who’s up for anything,” after all. I arrived there right away to meet them. It was also AMAZING.

Few things make me grin more than seeing someone else perform in their element, and Ok Go definitely did. The images! The twirling! The talent and determination behind it all—the wonderful, distinctive, silly talent! That embodies self-actualization at its most enjoyable and best. I relished every second of it.

Every time I open a book written by a buddy, I get the same tizzy of awe. The Easy Vegetarian Kitchen by Naturally Ella’s Erin Alderson is the most recent publication. There are fifty basic dishes in this cookbook, each with four seasonal modifications, for a total of two hundred. Erin is a machine for developing recipes, and I like having a physical representation of her toil.

This salad was one of the recipes Erin asked me to test out for her book last year. I simply couldn’t resist sharing it with the world now that I can. Fresh greens, Trader Joe’s raw peas and pea shoots, thinly sliced fennel, and freshly baked whole grain croutons are all combined in a spring panzanella with a lemony sauce. The garlic scapes, which resemble green onions and grow out of garlic if you allow them, are called for in her final dish. Instead, I used crushed garlic. Congratulations, Erin, on a job well done!

Also read: Thai-Style Lettuce Wraps


Made-at-home croutons

  • 2 cups of crusty whole grain bread cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Olive oil, 1 tbsp
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • black pepper freshly ground


  • 3 cups of roughly chopped arugula or greens
  • 1 cup of sliced fennel, thin
  • fresh shelled peas, 1 cup
  • 1 cup optional pea shoots
  • Sunflower seeds, 2 to 4 teaspoons, to taste


  • Olive oil, two tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon, juiced)
  • Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey, to taste
  • 1 minced or pressed garlic clove
  • Salt, to taste, 18 to 14 teaspoon
  • black pepper, freshly ground, to taste


  • The oven should be preheated at 375 degrees. Use parchment paper to line a sizable baking sheet with a rim. Mix the bread cubes with the salt, pepper, olive oil, and on the baking sheet. Crisp should be baked for 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Gather the roughly chopped greens, sliced fennel, fresh peas (yes, they’re raw! ), pea shoots, and sunflower seeds in a sizable serving bowl.
  • The dressing ingredients should be thoroughly combined and emulsified. Toss the salad ingredients together after drizzling the dressing over them.
  • Throw in the croutons as well and serve when they have had a chance to cool for a few minutes.