There is that time of year when all you want to feed yourself is fresh, crunchy, cold (or maybe room temperature) food. The time when you are drinking more cold beverages than you thought possible. And when you are going to backyard gatherings or picnics in the park. That time of the year is now and all I want are things that are stuffed with fresh herbs from the garden, salty, tangy, and maybe a little spicy. Luckily, this simple salad satisfies all of those cravings.
How simple? First, throw a bunch of herbs, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar into a food processor. Toast your couscous until it is golden, then cook it with broth to give it some extra love. Sauté the asparagus and peas for just a few minutes, until they have just a touch of color but are mostly a vibrant green. Top all of this with crumbled feta for a touch of salty briny tang, and enjoy. Don’t worry, you’ll have sauce leftover to drizzle over any thing hot off the grill.
Sometimes, you make a meal, thinking one dish will be the star. Especially when you lay down a hefty chunk of change on a cut of meat. But things happen – you run out of time and you don’t season the meat properly or sear it the way you’d like, and then maybe you leave it in the slow cooker a little bit longer than you should have. And when that happens, there are side dishes that sneak up and surprise you. Like this shaved asparagus salad did.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew this salad would be good. I love asparagus, and there are seemingly a million shaved asparagus salad recipes out there (like this one, and this one, and this one). And yeah, they’re all relatively the same. But man, something about the freshness of this salad – crunchy, sour, salty – just got me. It was exactly what I needed after a long day of work. And it certainly was better than an underseasoned, overcooked (only slightly) piece of meat.
Shaved Asparagus Salad
1 bunch of asparagus
juice from half of a lemon
salt (course is good, if you’ve got it)
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup, roughly, of toasted pine nuts, sliced and toasted almonds, or shelled pistachios
parmesan cheese, though crumbled feta would work nicely too
Don’t snap the tough ends off your asparagus just yet! Leave them on and use them as a handle. Lay the asparagus on a cutting board, and use a peeler to shave off wide strips, shaving away from you. You’ll have some thick pieces at the end, but do the best you can. Apparently the consensus is that y-shaped peelers are better for this, but I don’t have one of those. Make do with what you’ve got. Discard the woody ends. Put the peeled pieces into a bowl or on a platter or whatever you’re planning on serving on/in. Pour the lemon juice over top of the asparagus, and drizzle with olive oil. I can’t tell you how much olive oil, because I didn’t measure. A good glug should suffice. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the top, as well as the toasted nuts. Rinse your peeler and use it to shave some thin pieces of parmesan to top the salad (or use a fork and crumble the feta over top). We’re big cheese fans, so we did more cheese instead of less.
Enjoy on a spring or summer day, preferably with a glass of refreshing white or rosé wine. I think this salad would be perfect alongside some grilled fish or chicken for a summer soirée.
I’m writing this post from my hotel room in California, where I watched my baby sister graduate yesterday. Her school threw an incredibly fun party, where we ate good food and danced with my adorable grandmother and family. What a lovely way to celebrate. Now, on to weekend finds.
1. Storing Asparagus
In our house these days, you will usually find at least 3 bunches of asparagus in the fridge at any given time. Clearly, my housemates and I are ready for spring/summer produce, ready for a change, ready for something other than root vegetables and kale. Because as good as all that stuff is, it’s really hard to eat it for 6 months and not get tired. And sometimes, we play a game of “Whose asparagus is that?” Anyway, my point is, these tips for keeping your asparagus fresh and lasting longer will be welcome in my household.
2. Foodies, a Documentary
A documentary about my people? Yes please. I’ll go see it for sure. The trick is to find out where it’ll be playing. And also to figure out how I can hop a flight for my dinner reservation.
I’ll definitely be trying out this music app at my next dinner party. Simple as that.
4. Parmesan Broth
I love using up as much flavor-creating ingredients as I can, and one thing I can’t stand to throw away is parmesan rinds. Now that I’ve found parmesan broth, I’m going to make lots of it, and use it in probably all of the ways listed in this article.
5. Crack Slurp
Yes, that is the name of this recipe from Lady and Pups. The guide to Asian noodles, this recipe has you frying up chicken skin, the “crack,” and reserving the fat to stir in with some fresh delicious noodles and sprinkle the fried skin on top. I don’t know if I can find all of the ingredients she uses, but I certainly hope to try recreating some version of this.
As soon as I returned from Vietnam on Thursday, my mind quickly zeroed in on the upcoming holiday: Passover! While I sadly can’t make it home this year to celebrate with my family, I am going to have a small dinner at my house with my roommates. I don’t think we’ll do the whole seder, but I am looking forward to cooking some of my favorites and sharing this bit of tradition with my friends. Now, the age old question: should I stick with the known and loved recipes? Or try something new and adventurous? Here are some recipes I’ve been eyeing.
1. Haroset with Medjool Dates
I love haroset. When I was in college, and I couldn’t go home for Passover, but I certainly couldn’t cook a whole seder in my dorm, I still made haroset. This haroset looks a little more smooth than the one I usually make, but I like the addition of the dates for sweetness.
2. Matzo brittle/crunch/toffee
There are a thousand different variations on matzo brittle. Seriously, you can find so many recipes from a quick google search (see David Lebovitz, HuffPost, or Smitten Kitchen). But I’m thinking I’d like to be a little adventurous and top the traditionally matzo, toffee, and chocolate with some more interesting ingredients like dried sour cherries, toasted coconut, or pistachios.
Perhaps one thing I’m most excited to make for Passover is the brisket. My mom made this recipe from Martha Stewart at least once when I was growing up, and it is the one that really sticks out in my mind. But there are so many good looking recipes, like this one from Bon Appetit, that I’m already having trouble deciding which to use.
4. Deviled Eggs
I think making deviled eggs instead of simply serving plain hard boiled eggs might be more interesting and give me more chances to try something new. This recipe that Deb just posted on Smitten Kitchen looks great, and I love the use of a spring vegetable like asparagus.
5. Seder Plate
I don’t have a seder plate, and this year I’ll probably just put a bunch of ramekins on a platter and call it good. Still, I haven’t been able to stop myself from eyeing some beautiful (and some very expensive) seder plates. This Victorian era seder plate is fantastic – I love the color, and I love to think that I’d use the cake stand part year round. I like the more modern take on this stainless steel seder plate. And this painted ceramic plate reminds me of the one we used growing up.