Friday, June 4, 2010

Salads of summer: Asparagus

Very few things make me as happy as basil. Except maybe asparagus. And then there are eggs... and cheese... OK, fine, so there are quite a few food items that bring a smile to my face. And happily many of them converge right about now, season-wise.

It really only gets better from here (if and when summer actually arrives)! I had my first good blueberries (not local, but not GIANT carbon footprint, more in the medium department) this week, and a pretty half-witted watermelon (what was I thinking? That was rushing it a bit, I know!). But nectarines are coming around, and strawberries are getting less white inside. All headed in the right direction.

Now come the salad days! Here are three variations on salads that have made me quite quite happy lately:

Asparagus Salad with Deconstructed Pesto
2 cups of cleaned, steamed, chopped asparagus
1 cup of basil, chopped chiffonade
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
1 garlic clove, minced
Olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together except the olive oil, then drizzle with the olive oil to taste, and toss lightly. Serve room temperature and enjoy!

Asparagus Salad with Poached Egg and Croutons

2 cups of cleaned, steamed and chopped asparagus
1 cup of basil, chopped chiffonade
1 cup of homemade croutons (storebought can work, but won't be NEARLY as yummy, unless you have access to some fresh ones from Trader Joe's, etc.)
1 poached egg
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Toss the asparagus, basil and croutons with olive oil and balsamic, starting lightly so as not to overdress. Plate the salad and then add the poached egg on top. A little salt and pepper and enjoy!

Cobb Salad with Asparagus
1 cup of cleaned, steamed, chopped asparagus
2 boiled eggs
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
Handful of salad greens
Salad dressing of your choice

Put the greens in the bottom of your salad bowl and build the salad on top of the greens. The variations are endless--you could add whatever flavors appeal to you, but I especially enjoy the asparagus on this one. I often will use a blue cheese dressing, since a traditional cobb usually has blue cheese crumbles on it, but you can steer clear of that extra fat and just enjoy a light balsamic or honey mustard vinaigrette too.

More salad days are coming! Soon the produce will be straight from the garden, but it's going to take a few weeks with some actual sunshine to get that growth... between now and then, I'm happy to rummage through the local markets and see what's available. Fresh is fabulous! What's your favorite salad combo? I love to get new ideas...


  1. So I did another version by combining a couple recipes. I didn't have any basil here so I took romaine, asparagus, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, little chopped green onions and boiled egg...we didn't even dress it because the combination made it all go together very nicely. It was great. I am looking forward to doing the same thing without the onion but with basi instead. Thanks!


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