Tags Posts tagged with "Asparagus"

Asparagus

Cream of Asparagus Soup

By Barbara Beltrami

If crocuses and daffodils are the floral harbingers of spring, then surely asparagus is the vegetal one. Truth be told, for die-hard veggie lovers nothing spells spring like asparagus. While nowadays it is available year round, it’s still a real treat when it’s grown locally and is fresh, young, and tender. Another thing that’s great about it is that it lends itself to so many cooking methods. I know a lot of people like it roasted or grilled or sautée, and still others like it in a salad or soup, on a tart or crostini. As for me, I like it so much that I prefer to eat it unadorned, just steamed with nothing but a little salt sprinkled on it. Anyway, here are a few recipes you might enjoy.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

4 ounces unsalted butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

2 pounds fresh asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 1” pieces

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup heavy cream

Chopped fresh chives

Chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is opaque, about 3 to 5 minutes; add salt and pepper and asparagus and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until asparagus starts to turn bright green.

 Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then simmer about 20 to 30 minutes, until asparagus is very tender; let cool 10 to 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer solids and one cup liquid to a food processor; pulse till smooth, then return to pot and stir into remaining liquid. Add cream and simmer until heated through. Garnish with chives and dill and serve hot or warm with a chilled dry white wine.

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

METRO photo

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound fresh asparagus, woody ends removed

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 large egg yolk

1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Steam the asparagus until just tender; sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; set aside to keep warm. Place egg yolk and lemon juice in a blender and pulse a few times to combine; with motor running, gradually add butter until mixture is light and frothy. If sauce is too thick, add a teaspoon of water to loosen it. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper and keep warm until ready to serve, then pour over asparagus. Serve with eggs, beef, or crusty bread.

Asparagus and Pea Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound fresh asparagus, woody ends removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated, washed and drained

1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen peas, cooked

1/2 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread asparagus on  sheet, then drizzle the two tablespoons olive oil over it and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; roast until al dente, about 10 minutes; remove from oven and let come to room temperature. Line a platter or salad plates with lettuce leaves; place asparagus on top of lettuce, then sprinkle peas over it. In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, lemon juice, the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. Drizzle over asparagus, peas and lettuce and serve with beef, chicken, poultry or fish.

Strawberry, Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

By Barbara Beltrami

Moms love salads. They order them in restaurants and for take out and carry them to work in plastic containers. They probably try to get you to eat them. So why not make Mom a special salad or two or three for her special day? It’s a project that accommodates lots of chefs and sous chefs and is fun to prepare and assemble. Here are some out of the ordinary salads that are sure to bring a smile to Mom’s face and lots of hugs to the kitchen crew.

Tomato, Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup orange juice

Freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon simple syrup

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1” cubes

1/8 seedless watermelon, cut into 1” cubes

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes

3/4 pound cubed feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, shallot, syrup, oil, salt and pepper till thoroughly emulsified. In a large salad bowl combine tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, feta and dill; when ready to serve toss with dressing and serve with toasted pita bread.

Strawberry, Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons minced red onion

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

7 cups baby spinach, washed 

1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1 large orange, peeled, cut into bite-size cubes

1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegars, onion, salt and pepper. In a large salad bowl toss together the spinach, strawberries and orange. When ready to serve toss with dressing and top with almonds. Serve with sliced grilled boneless chicken breast, lamb chops or steak and baked potato.

Southwestern Chopped Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup  freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 teaspoon chopped fresh jalapeno pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed, chopped

One 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 medium-large tomato, chopped

1/2 cup peeled chopped jicama

1 cup fresh, frozen or drained canned corn kernels

1 red onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1 avocado

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice and zest, oil, honey, garlic, jalapeño, coriander, salt and pepper; let sit and before using, remove and discard garlic. In large salad bowl toss the lettuce, beans, tomato, jicama, corn, onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Immediately before serving, peel avocado and dice, add to salad and immediately toss with dressing. Serve with tacos, nachos, hamburgers, pizza, steak or anything grilled.

Asparagus, Pea, Radish and Bibb Lettuce Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 to 2 teaspoons honey

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1 head Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

1/2 pound snap peas, cut into 1” slices

1 bunch radishes, washed, trimmed, sliced

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper. Steam asparagus until barely al dente, about 3 to 4 minutes; immerse in cold water to stop cooking. When cooled, place in large salad bowl and toss with with lettuce, peas and radishes. When ready to serve toss with dressing, sprinkle with chives and serve with meat, fish or poultry. 

By Barbara Beltrami

Even in the days when we can access any produce from just about anywhere all year long, when asparagus show up in great quantities in the supermarket at lower prices, when the stalks are pencil thin and the tips tight, we know spring has arrived and we can abandon the brussels sprouts and winter squash that have sustained us through the fall and winter.

It is not uncommon for asparagus to make their seasonal debut at Easter or Passover dinner and then to show up on our tables in many forms and preparations throughout the spring. In addition to the usual steamed, roasted or grilled versions, delightful themselves, there are so many ways to take advantage of this tender green veggie. Ever think of making an asparagus bisque with crab meat? Asparagus pesto? An asparagus and haricot vert (thin French green bean) salad with tarragon vinaigrette? Read on.

Asparagus Bisque

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed, then cut into one-inch pieces

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 leek, white part only, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 ribs celery, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 large potato, peeled and diced

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup cream or milk

½ pound fresh or frozen and defrosted lump crab meat, broken into bite-size pieces

Fresh chives, for garnish

DIRECTIONS: Steam asparagus until soft and just on the verge of turning yellowish green. Heat oil in a medium skillet; add onion, garlic, leek, celery and potato; sauté until onion, leek and celery are opaque, but not golden and potato is soft but not mushy. Add asparagus, salt and pepper and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool until just warm and puree entire mixture in food processor until smooth. Add milk or cream and pulse a few times. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with crab meat and chives. Serve topped with crackers or croutons.

Asparagus Pesto

Asparagus Pesto

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound fresh asparagus

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup pignoli nuts

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup Italian flat leaf parsley leaves

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: Wash and peel asparagus; snap off bottoms of stems. Slice into 2-inch pieces. Steam until asparagus are tender but still a nice bright green, 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of stems. Place in food processor; add remaining ingredients and process until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Serve at room temperature with linguine, spaghetti or any delicate pasta, gnocchi, crudités or toasted baguette slices.

Asparagus, Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound asparagus, steamed until tender but still bright green

1 pound green beans, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces and steamed until tender but still a bright green

12 cherry tomatoes, cut into wedges

½ cup minced Italian flat leaf parsley leaves

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

2 to 3 scallions, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, bruised

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one medium fresh lemon

1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard

1 level tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, minced or 1 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl toss together the asparagus, green beans, tomatoes and parsley. In a small bowl vigorously whisk together the remaining ingredients to make the dressing. When ready to serve, toss veggies with dressing. Tastes best if not refrigerated. Serve with chicken or fish and crusty French bread.