Spring Panzanella

Spring is here, so to celebrate I made a big bowl of croutons for dinner. Panzanella is a Tuscan dish normally associated with summer and tomatoes, but my desire to eat vast quantities of bread isn’t limited to warmer months, so here we are. Choice of bread is up to you (I prefer a mix of sourdough and brioche). The Luberon N4 is our version of an Herbes de Provence, and seasons both the bread and the dressing.

Luberon N4 – Recipe by Christian Leue

Serves 2


3 cups of bread, cut into cubes
Olive oil
Good salt
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, minced
2.5 ounces (1/2 clamshell pack) baby arugula
2 tsp Luberon N4
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sweet sherry vinegar
3 strips bacon
2 eggs (or 4 for a heartier meal)


• Cook the bacon in a skillet until chewy and slightly crisp. Set aside on paper towels or a rack to drain and leave the fat in the pan. Chop the bacon roughly once cooled.

• Make the croutons. In a separate skillet over medium heat combine 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil, 1 tsp Luberon N4, and one smashed garlic clove. cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant, then remove the garlic clove. Add the bread cubes and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and golden brown. Remove cubes to a paper towel or rack to cool.

• Make the dressing. In the same skillet over medium low heat add the minced red onion, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp Luberon N4. Cook until the onions are translucent and then add the sherry vinegar and cook for 1 more minute. Optionally mince and add the garlic clove from earlier. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes to cool. Strain the liquid from the solids, pressing well to get as much as you can, and mix with 3 Tbsp olive oil. Or for a creamy dressing, puree everything including the solids. Salt to taste; you want it on the salty side.

• Heat the skillet with the bacon fat in it and add a bit of olive oil if necessary (you want fat coating the whole bottom of the pan). Start frying your eggs.

• Toss the arugula with 1/2 tsp salt, lemon juice, and 2 tsp olive oil. Add the croutons, bacon, and dressing and toss well, divide into two bowls and top with the sliced red onion and eggs.

Like heat? Add a few dashes of calabrian chile oil.

Fun to try

• Sweet & Savory – sub in Mishmish for the spice, Vidalia onion for the red onion, and add some feta crumbles and seasonal fresh fruit

• White Pizza – make the cream style dressing from the recipe and add one egg yolk, spread onto pizza dough and top with a mixture of mozzarella and ricotta. Add the bacon and sliced red onion and bake until crisp. Top with dressed arugula, slice, and serve.

Past April Recipes

2017 – Cumin Lamb Belly and Braised Lamb Shanks

Food image and recipe © Christian Leue. Questions? Contact christian@laboiteny.com