In the past I have always made bread salads (usually with tomatoes) with stale bread that gets ever so slightly mushy as it sits in the dressing. Robertson opts for crispy pieces of bread, so first I made a tray of croutons by tossing chunks of bread (torn not cut) in olive oil and salt and a sprinkling of herbes de provence. That was Robertson's idea but I thought it was a nice touch. The croutons baked for 15 minutes at 400º.
Next I turned my attention to the vegetables. I thinly sliced one red onion and soaked it in 1/2 cup red wine vinegar and water to cover for 30 minutes. A quick pickled onion for the salad. I shucked, blanched and peeled my precious fava beans and steamed asparagus (cut in bite sized pieces) for the salad. I tossed the salad (bread and vegetables) with a handful of fresh mint leaves and a quick dressing made from the zest and juice of one lemon combined with 1/2 cup olive oil and salt. Since ours was a main course salad I topped James' panzanella with a lightly poached egg and shavings of parmesan cheese.
James is a big bread lover so I thought this salad would be a giant hit. Turns out James said the bread made it harder to get to the fava beans. He had to dig for them. So, I guess my beans were the stars after all.