As a lover of food and cooking it may surprise some that I loathe grocery shopping. However, I adore farmer’s markets. I love to walk through the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, take in the sights and the aromas, and most importantly chit chat with other like-minded people hunting and gathering their goods. This week I went a little overboard on fresh local asparagus. We are going to be eating a lot of asparagus around here and I am pretty sure I’ll be freezing soup too. Okay, maybe I went more than a little overboard. In any case, this week’s Meatless Monday suggestion is a spring green asparagus salad that can be eaten as a light lunch on it’s own, served as a side salad, or for a heartier meal paired with pasta or grains. Enjoy this super easy to make, light, clean, green, spring salad for Meatless Monday or any day of the week.
Spring Green Asparagus Salad
A few notes – the asparagus is cut into coin-shaped pieces here to better match the radish slices. It’s a small extra step, but worth the effort. And then there’s the dressing. The dressing is lemony and bright, and a bit like a coarsely chopped pesto minus the basil. You could certainly add chopped basil later in the season (or mint) for a variation. This recipe will yield more than needed in case you need a bit extra for pasta, grains, or salad greens that you might serve over, under or around this dish. This recipe is Vegan-friendly just leave out the Parmesan.
- 12 spears of thick asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
- 5 – 6 broccolini (or broccoli) florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- big pinch of salt
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, and coarsely chopped
- 7 tiny radishes, washed trimmed and very thinly sliced
- zest of one lemon
- bit of shaved parmesan
Wash the asparagus and broccolini well and set aside. Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, salt, shallot and olive oil. Stir in the pine nuts. Set aside.
To cook the asparagus, place a splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the asparagus and broccolini. Toss well and cover the skillet with a lid. Cook for one minute. Stir again, taste a piece, and cover again for another minute – but only if needed. You don’t want to overcook the vegetables here, they should be bright and with a bit of bite to them. When the vegetables are cooked, remove them from the heat and stir in the radishes and lemon zest. Taste, add a bit of salt if needed. Toss with 1/3 of the pine nut dressing, adding more as needed – as I mention up above, you might have a bit extra.
Turn everything out onto a platter and finish with some shaved Parmesan.
Serves 2 – 3
There is nothing better than eating seasonally, both for you and the planet. Cooking in season means choosing fruits and vegetables that are at their peak of freshness and flavor. Buying locally grown produce is the best: local produce is less likely to be damaged, uses less energy to transport, ripens more naturally and as an added bonus you support your local economy. Because of limited growing seasons in most regions, it’s virtually impossible to eat locally and in season 100% of the time. If possible, grow it and pick it yourself – you’ll know exactly what went into growing those vegetables and you can enjoy them at their peak the day they are harvested. If gardening isn’t your thing, visit a local farmers’ market weekly or join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, some of who even deliver the weekly harvest to convenient distribution locations. While it might not always be possible to purchase your seasonal produce locally, the next best thing is to purchase what’s in season somewhere else – and hopefully not too very far away to minimize shipping time and subsequent damage.
To find out what’s harvested seasonally in your area and where the local markets are located, go to www.localharvest.org
Photo & recipe courtesy of 101 Cookbooks