Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Feta Cheese, Spinach and Lemon

½ lb. orzo, cooked

1 lb. asparagus

1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach

2 T extra virgin olive oil

½ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 small lemon

½ cup toasted nuts – chopped pistachios, pine nuts, slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds

1 cup feta, crumbled

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of cinnamon

Salt to taste

Cook the orzo according to the directions on the box, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Prep the asparagus: trim each one by snapping them at the end of their stem, which will separate the tough part from the tender. Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain them under cold running water. Cut them into 1½ inch pieces and set add them to the orzo.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, just until aromatic. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook until wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Add mixture to the orzo; add the feta, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Heat a small-medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the nuts and toast until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Sprinkle on top of the orzo and serve. Serves 5.


Asparagus & Wilted Arugula Salad with Pancetta & Almonds

asparagus1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces thin-sliced pancetta (can substitute 8 slices of bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces)
½ C toasted shaved or slivered almonds
6 ounces arugula

Dressing:

1 T shallots, minced
¼ C dry sherry
2 T red wine or sherry vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ C extra-virgin olive oil

Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot and add the pancetta slices. (If the pancetta is very lean, add 1 T. olive oil to the pan.) After 1-2 minutes, turn the pancetta once and continue to cook another minute until the fat is lightly golden, then remove to a plate and set aside. Once all the pancetta is cooked, add the asparagus to the same pan and cook, stirring often, until the pieces are crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus to the plate with the pancetta. If there is no moisture left in the pan add 1 T. olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over medium-high heat for a minute, then add the sherry and boil to reduce the liquid by half. Whisk in the vinegar and Dijon mustard. Remove from the heat and add the olive oil a little at a time, whisking well to make a thick dressing.

Put the arugula in a serving bowl, add the toasted almonds, asparagus and crumble the pancetta over the salad. Add just enough dressing to slightly wilt the arugula, toss well and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.


Asparagus with Citrus and Oregano

asparagusCombining three colors of asparagus makes an interesting and appetizing display and the citrus adds a lovely bit of color. The purple asparagus will turn green with cooking, but it will be darker, richer green than the green asparagus, which take a on a bright, vivid hue with cooking. Microwaving the asparagus helps retain their bright colors and ensures crisp texture. However, if you like them cooked a bit more, you could steam them, covered, in the olive oil-water-citrus peel mixture. Use a bit more water than the microwaving calls for. For the citrus topping, you can substitute clementines or sweet Meyer lemons for the navel oranges or use a combination. Combine all the juices when making the sauce.

2 oranges, preferably navel
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/8 t hot pepper flakes
½ t dried oregano or 1 t minced fresh oregano
2 scallions, finely chopped or 2 t minced chives
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
16 stalks asparagus, green, purple or white or a mixture (about 1 lb.)

Zest oranges; set zest aside. Slice off the ends of each orange. Working with one orange at a time, set an orange on end; with a small knife, slice off and discard the peel and the white pith. Holding the orange in your hand, use a knife to cut the orange segments away from their membranes. Place segments (supremes) in a bowl and set aside. Over a separate bowl, squeeze the remaining orange pulp to extract any remaining juice. Repeat with second orange. Whisk 4 t oil, lemon juice, oregano, and scallions into orange juice and season with salt and pepper; set dressing aside.

Prepare asparagus: Bend each stalk to snap at its tender part; reserve lower half for another use. Line up all spears and trim so they are reasonably similar in length. Transfer asparagus to a 9″ x 13″ microwavable baking dish. Sprinkle asparagus with half the reserved orange zest and drizzle with remaining oil and 1/4 cup water. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high heat for 2 minutes. Rotate dish and microwave until asparagus is just tender, about 2 minutes more. Toss asparagus with reserved citrus dressing and season with salt. Top with orange segments and remaining zest. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


Creamy Pasta with Asparagus, Cremini Mushrooms and Tarragon

asparagus_crimini_pasta_2

 

 

Another recipe from our spring repertoire, this one demoed by Danielle at Brookside Gardens earlier this month — sorry wonderful audience for taking so long in posting this. It somehow slipped through the cracks. Enjoy this delicious recipe. It was adapted by Danielle from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.

½ lb. pasta (farfalle, orecchiette, casarecce)
3 tablespoons butter
½ C (1 large) shallot, minced
½ C Marsala wine
1 lb. Cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 C mascarpone cheese
1 T fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
¾ C walnuts, toasted
¼ C freshly grated Parmesan
Walnut oil, for drizzle garnish (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 10-12 minutes, per the package directions. Drain and reserve.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the Marsala wine and increase the heat to a boil. Cook another couple of minutes to reduce the wine slightly. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pasta and heat thoroughly. Stir in the mascarpone, nutmeg, tarragon and toss until the cheese coats the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, thin with a splash of chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in 1/2 cup of walnuts. Season the pasta, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts. Serve 4-6 as an entrée, 6-8 as a side dish.


Carrot Pudding Souffles with Buttered Spring Vegetables

carrotYou can make the souffles a day ahead and refrigerate them, covered, in the ramekins. To reheat, unmold the souffles and place them right side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour one-quarter cup heavy cream over top, and heat in a 375-degree oven until heated through and cream is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Or you can microwave them.  Prepare the vegetables while the souffles are in the oven. Adapted from Martha Stewart and demoed in March 2015.

½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for ramekins
1 small shallot, thinly sliced (about 1/4 C)
1# carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 3 C)
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt
1 C heavy cream, plus more if needed for reheating souffles
3 T flour
1½ C whole milk, warmed
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t ground ginger
Freshly ground pepper
6 egg yolks
4 egg whites
sugar snap peas, baby asparagus, petite peas
1 T parsley finely chopped

Melt 2 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, chopped carrots, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 10-15 minutes. (Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1-2 T water if needed to prevent carrots or butter from browning.) Stir in cream. Bring mixture just to a simmer, and immediately remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Puree mixture and transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Melt 4 T butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon; cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in warm milk gradually. Use a rubber spatula to scrape bottom and corners of pan. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often to prevent lumps from forming, 5 minutes. Whisk in carrot puree, and remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, ginger, and 1 t salt; season with pepper. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool. Preheat oven to 400. Lightly butter eight 6-ounce ramekins; set aside. Add yolks, one at a time, to carrot mixture, whisking well after each addition. Using a clean whisk or an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into carrot mixture. Ladle mixture into prepared ramekins, filling almost to the rims. Place ramekins in a roasting pan, and transfer to oven. Pour enough boiling water into pan to come about three-quarters of the way up sides of ramekins. Bake until souffles are puffed and set, and tops begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Using tongs, carefully transfer the souffles to a wire rack, and let cool 10 minutes. Before serving, bring a medium pot of water to a boil; add ½ t salt. Add baby vegetables and cook until bright and still firm, about 3 mins. Drain, return to hot pan; add 2 T butter and toss with parlsey. Invert each souffle onto a metal spatula, and then invert again onto a serving plate. Arrange baby vegetables around souffles. Garnish with pea shoots.

 



Asparagus-Stuffed Eggs

asp eggs

 

 

 

We updated this retro recipe – from Julia Child in the 60s – with modern touches like a little hit of curry, cayenne and lemon zest.  These deviled eggs have spring written all over them and with addition of pureed vegetables, they pack a lot more nutrients than more traditional deviled eggs. A variation on this is to replace the asparagus with fresh or frozen peas.  For your flavorings, you’d want to go half mayonnaise and half creme fresh, trade in the curry for chopped fresh mint leaves and skip the lemon zest, but add a teaspoon or so of Marsala and another of Worcestershire for that devil kick. We demoed this at Brookside April 16, 2014. Yield: 24 stuffed egg halves Read More