365 Days of Dining [Shrimp, Radish and Asparagus Salad]
And now for the news I’ve been holding back from all of you, my darling friends, peers and readers, for over a week of agonizing solo-excitement.
[Photo courtesy of 365 Days of Dining website]
About a month or so back, I applied for Tourism Richmond’s 365 Days of Dining while thinking to myself, “You’re not going to get it. But maybe you will get it. But probably not. But you never know, right? Ok. FINE. I’ll apply.” Thankfully, the thought that bellowed louder than the rest was, “If I pass this up, I will regret it.”
Sweet holy hot crossed buns! Am I ever glad I did. I found out last week that of the 1500 worldwide applicants, I have made the short list of 12. TWELVE PEOPLE. Can you believe that? I’m still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to pop through my front door and tell me I’ve been punked. (Does Ashton Kutcher even host that show anymore? I hope not. It was a stinker.) I digress..
Moving along, I just wanted to mention how incredibly, unbelievably, shockingly touched I am by the support I’ve received even just in the last few hours since the news was made official. You are all my constant inspiration to keep pushing through, working harder and hopefully someday (perhaps sooner than I thought?) make my dreams a reality. Whether or not I make the final 3, I am so touched, honoured and moved to have even made the top 12 in a group of 1500 talented individuals that I will forever remember this day. Truly, I am awed.
Now for the part I really dislike doing. I know you’re all busy and time is hard to find these days… however, starting tomorrow the voting portion of this job opportunity starts. The finalist with the most votes gets an automatic entry into the final 3… which is beyond imagination at this point. Tourism Richmond will choose the final two themselves (which I am glad for!).
If you can find a few spare moments to visit Richmond, BC’s Facebook Page, “like” it and vote for me, I would be eternally grateful.
OK! Now that the housekeeping matters have been taken care of, let’s rap!
I created this Spring Salad for the April issue of Centretown Buzz, a local newspaper I write a monthly food column for. I typically don’t blog about the recipes I write for the paper, but this one is so light and lovely that I just had to. Grassy asparagus laced with peppery thin-sliced radishes, hulled sugar snap peas, and meaty sauteed shrimps all brightened up with some lemon and finished with aromatic Thai basil and cilantro. To make things ever sexier (and less wasteful), I added a last minute addition of pureed pea pods, lemon and olive oil. It’s the perfect afternoon lunch to enjoy over a chilled glass of wine.
Shrimp, Radish and Asparagus Salad
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
The directions in this recipe are quite vague so feel free to be creative and make it your own. The lemony pea-pod puree is optional, but it’s a brilliantly fresh, bright green flavour that really compliments the salad. It’s also a great way to be less wasteful.
small bundle asparagus, preferably tender, thin spears
5-8 radishes, cleaned and sliced thin
2 large handfuls sugar snap peas
10-15 large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
zest and juice from ½ lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine
small handful Thai basil, chopped
small handful cilantro, chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper
freshly grated Parmesan
lemon and sugar pea pod puree (recipe to follow, optional)
Snap off the woody end of the asparagus and slice each spear into 1 ½” pieces. Slice the sugar snap peas down the seam, and remove the peas into a small bowl.
Sprinkle the shrimp with a little salt and pepper. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan. When the oil starts to ripple, add the shrimp. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through. Toss in the radishes, asparagus, hulled peas, lemon zest and juice. Pour in the white white and turn the heat up a touch. Cook until vegetables are softened but still have a bit of crunch to them, and the white wine is reduced. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Spoon into bowls and top with chopped cilantro, basil, lemony pea pod puree and parmesan cheese.
Lemony Pea Pod Pureé
zest of remaining half of lemon
generous squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 ½ cups leftover pea pods
Blend ingredients in a food processor, bullet or blender until smooth. Taste and add more lemon or salt if needed.
The Business of Success [Lemon-Scallion White Bean Patties]
How is success calculated?
Is fame the ultimate goal? Is it financial reward that must be received before you can say you’re successful at your craft of choice? Or is it simply being happy with ones work that denotes success?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself recently. My time has been spent brooding endlessly over which path I will travel in these next few years, and what I hope will be at the end of the journey on both sides. Currently, I’m standing still at an unfamiliar, mid-twenties crossroad and haven’t ever felt more befuddled by my future. On the one hand, I have a full-time career, albeit one I’m not entirely (at all) passionate about, that pays the bills and keeps me busy. On the other, I have a hobby - this. Right here. Which I adore. I yearn for the recognizable sound of fingers delicately tapping keys, moving forks from one side of the plate to another all for the sake of a photo… and when I’ve had a few days away from the kitchen, from the camera, from the food… I feel a vacant space in the pit of my tummy where my ‘love’ lives. I think about it all day, every day and I would love nothing more than to jump head first into a career in writing, or simply in food. But therein lies the problem.
Amanda Hesser wrote an article yesterday about the business of Food Writing and her advice for future Food Writers. It was a discouraging article that needed to be written. As I read each word thoughtfully, I could literally see the shoulders of hundreds of thousands of aspiring food writers, like myself, slump forward in a dispirited sigh. Though the article was not without reward. I do urge you to read it, but the jist of Amanda’s advice was this;
- Don’t rely on your writing as your bread and butter. It is near impossible to pay your bills through writing alone - look for jobs within a desired area of the food industry and keep writing on the side.
- Work your ASS off. Literally.
- Get as much experience in as many areas of food as you possibly can - know your industry.
- Work for a company that’s making a difference and become an expert in an area of our food system.
- Pitch to magazines, go after a book contract
Once I had given myself a few hours to feel discouraged and brokenhearted about my future in food writing, I realized that the advice was more helpful than hurtful. And while I’m still assured it will take much determination and loads of long hours and hard work to clear the mid-twenties fog and find a befitting path, I do know that I am walking down the road I need to be on. I’m nothing if not determined and you mark my words, I will get there - be it now or in 10 more years. And if you’re an aspiring food writer reading this - I have faith that you, too, can work your little fingers to the bone and come out on top. This was the shake-the-dust-off-your-bones pep talk we all desperately needed. No more sugar coated encouragement.
With all of that said, let the love come in! We’re here for food and it would be rude for me to deny you that much.
Lemon-Scallion White Bean Patties with Asparagus Pesto & Simple Salsa
makes 6 large patties
The pesto here is lovely, but it does tend to be slightly outdone by the bolder flavours of the dish. I happened to have asparagus that needed to be used up ASAP and so I did. I would recommend making a simple cilantro or basil pesto if you want something that will stand up to the rest of the flavours.
2 cans white kidney or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
few grinds of black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl, mash the beans using a potato mashed or a fork (smooshing them against the side of the bowl works best for me). Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well until combined.
Form the bean mixture into patties about the size of a hamburger bun. Heat a non-stick or well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium heat. Drizzle a little vegetable oil in the pan and wait until its hot and rippled. Fry the patties, 2 or 4 at a time for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until nice and deep golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined pan.
Small bundle asparagus (about the width of a toilet paper roll), ends trimmed, sliced into 1” pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp toasted walnut pieces
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 1 minute until bright green. Remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water for a few minutes to stop the cooking process.
Add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Simple Cherry Tomato Salsa
It’s best to make this before you get everything else ready so it has some time to chill out and absorb all those spicy, delicious flavours.
1 pint fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tbsp minced scallions or chives
1/2 jalapeno (less if you’re sensitive to heat), seeds removed, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
generous squeeze of lime juice
few pinches salt
Mix everything together and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Dollop each patty with 1 tbsp of the pesto and a spoonful or two of the salsa. Finish with some grated Parmesan, fresh ground pepper and a squeeze of lime or lemon juice.
Love and Simple Pasta [Rigatoni with Navy Beans, Asparagus and Basil/Mint/Lemon Oil]
The excitement is starting to grow thick like molasses in the late summer air. Can you feel it?
Oh, maybe it’s only me who has a momentous occasion coming up. And on second thought, I think I might have mistaken the smell of excitement for love.
This Sunday my big sister, my only sister..and sibling for that matter, Laura is getting married! I can’t believe it’s here so soon. It felt like yesterday they were announcing their engagement, but here we are, tomorrow kicking things off with the Rehearsal Dinner. After 6pm tomorrow night, it will be a whirlwind of love and excitement and dancing and love and then more dancing and more love. Isn’t that the best? I sure think it’s pretty un-freaking-believable.
Before we get going tomorrow, I wanted to be sure to get just one more recipe for you lest I get sucked into a wedding-induced euphoria and never come back. Totally plausible.
As you may or may not have heard 300 times, I’m a really big fan of pasta. Especially when it’s a really simple bowl of pasta with a few good seasonal ingredients that really shine.
When I came home last week, claiming ‘there’s nothing to eat’ as is customary, I started stubbornly opening and closing cupboards until I had what maybe, sort of, might pass for a meal. What was eventually to be piled in a bowl in front of me was shockingly good. A dish I’m likely to make again and again. Especially when there’s nothing to eat. A bowl of perfectly simple ingredient. Aside from your big sister’s wedding, what could be better than that?
Rigatoni with Sliced Asparagus, Navy Beans and Mint/Basil/Lemon Oil
I love rigatoni in this dish because it’s ridges and big tubes catch a lot of he sauce as well as the asparagus and beans, but if you’re not a fan, please feel free to use a pasta of your choice.
Small bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
1 can navy or white beans, rinsed
1/3 cup loosely packed basil
1 cup loosely packed mint + extra leaves for garnish
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1/4-1/3 cup good quality olive oil, plus more for finishing
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook to al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water.
Slice asparagus as thinly as you can on a sharp angle until you have about 1 cup of pieces.
To make oil:
Add basil, mint, lemon zest + juice and olive oil to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. If it’s too dry, add more oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Once pasta is cooked, add the asparagus and beans and toss to combine with pasta. Asparagus should brighten as it heats up. Add the oil a few tablespoons at a time until you have enough to coat the pasta. Add Parmesan and add pasta water a few tablespoons at a time until your sauce becomes slightly creamier.
Spoon into bowls and garnish with mint leaves and extra shaved Parmesan.
Off I got to celebrate the love of two wonderful people! Have a lovely long weekend, everyone!
She might kill me, but it’s too cute a photo not to post. HAPPY WEDDING TO MY BEAUTIFUL SISTER AND HER SOON TO BE HUSBAND, COREY!
[photo credit: Kronick Photography]
Conveniently Sloth-like [Red Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Radishes]
I do so love convenient eating. And frozen foods are just so convenient sometimes. Like when it’s 300 degrees outside and sweating into a pot over the stove seems only slightly less than glamorous. I’ve more or less been living out of the freezer for the past few days. Frozen pizza? Yes please. Frozen chicken fingers and fries? How did you know? Frozen meat pie? OK, maybe it’s time to re-think this strategy.
While obviously easy and not terribly unappetizing (to people like me who love crappy boxed food…. I know, it’s a problem), it doesn’t really sit as well as a home cooked meal does. I find myself feeling sluggish and heavy when I start eating like this. So with the first tiny bout of cool(er/ish) weather we’ve had this week, I decided to shake the dust from my lazy bones and get back in the kitchen. Admittedly, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t out of anything good in the freezer and didn’t want to go to the store. But hey, at least I’m honest about being a total sloth, right? I love when we agree.
Thankfully, Mr GL works right beside a grocery store, which saves my food-blogging buns so very often, so he was nice enough to bring me home some very fresh looking asparagus, radishes and goat cheese. Which I thought would be most delectable and especially healthy folded into some toasty almonds and red quinoa. And thankfully, I was right. Which only happens on occasion.
The combination of asparagus and goat cheese has always been a favourite under my roof, but with the nutty addition of the red quinoa and almonds, and the peppery sharp flavour of the radishes, it made for such a alluring combination of flavours that were as delicious as they were healthful. I hate leaving things to go to waste so I used the radish greens for a quick and beautifully vibrant vinaigrette that pulled everything together so perfectly. A home run suitable for dinner or, as I’ll be using it, for lunches for the next few days.
So if you’re slothing it out at home, eating your frozen chicken fingers, do yourself a favour and snap out of it for just an hour and you’ll have yourself a fresh, filling dish that feels damn good.
Red Quinoa Salad with Radishes and Asparagus
The salad will likely be warm when you first finish making it and it is perfectly delicious just like that, however, I sort of like it better cold the next day so be sure to save yourself a little bit for the next day!
1 cup red (or white/black) quinoa, rinsed until water runs clear
2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper
4-5 large radishes, sliced thin
1/2 cup almonds, toasted, chopped
1/4-1/3 cup goat cheese
Preheat oven to 375.
In a pot, bring water to a boil. Pour quinoa in and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 12-14 minutes or until quinoa is soft but still has a bit of a bite to it. Pour into a mesh strainer and let cool for 20 minutes.
While quinoa is cooking, place bite-size asparagus chunks into a pan and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle a pinch of two of salt and a few crack of pepper. Roast until bright green and still slightly crunchy in the middle.
Add the radishes, roasted asparagus, quinoa and almonds to a large bowl and toss lightly until combined. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Lemon & Radish Green Vinaigrette
handful radish greens (approx 1 cup), clean and dried
1 1/2 tsp (about half a lemon) lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 small clove garlic (half of a large clove)
salt to taste
Put all ingredients other than salt into food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and season to your liking with salt.
Add half of the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to combine. If it’s still slightly dry, add more until you have the desired coating.
Spoon into serving bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese.
Pretend Hooky [Spaghetti with Roasted Asparagus and Tarragon Pesto]
It’s Monday and I’m playing hooky.
Alright, you got me. I’m not playing hooky. I’m not brave enough to do things like that. In actuality, my office access card seems to be on the fritz so I was told I could just go home. Isn’t that wonderful?
Lucky for me, I seem to have gotten a day off on the one gloriously sunny day of the week. Knowing that, I decided to take my time strolling home. Lazily sipped a latte, stopped in a few shops, and finally ended in my mecca, the grocery store.
Grocery shopping in the morning is much different than grocery shopping after work or in the evening. Shoppers, though few, are noticeably more pleasant, having not yet had to deal with the many stresses of daily routine. No one is waiting impatiently for you to get out of their way or racing to be the first one through the small passage way out of the produce aisles. It’s just lovely.
I picked up some asparagus with the intention of having it grilled with our steaks tonight, but when I noticed the almost sagging leaves of tarragon wasting away in the crisper, I decided I’d better use them before it was too late. Asparagus and tarragon are a lovely combination, one you should rush try if you haven’t already. The fresh, sweet asparagus and the bold anise-like tarragon bring out the best in each other. Roasting the asparagus delivers a lovely nutty kick to the pair. Add in some toasty almonds, garlic and Parmesan and you’ve got a creamy, earthy little pesto that is great with pasta or on fish or poultry. Because it was lunch and I was looking for a quick snack, I tossed some in with spaghetti for a creamy, light bite.
Spaghetti with Roasted Asparagus-Tarragon Pesto
If you don’t have spaghetti, your favourite pasta will do just fine!
1 lb spaghetti
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of tough ends
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp fresh tarragon
handful almonds, toasted
1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 350.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and strain.
While pasta is cooking, add asparagus spears to a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast until spears are bright green but still have a little bite, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and add to a blender, bullet or food processor. Throw in the garlic, tarragon, almonds (reserving a few to garnish), a pinch or two of salt and a good glug of olive oil. Give it a few whizzes until a you’ve achieved a smooth paste, adding more olive oil if necessary. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking.
Put pasta back in a big pot over medium heat and add half the pasta water, 1/2 cup of the pesto and the parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. If it’s a little too sticky, add more pasta water to loosen.
Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil, some chopped almonds, a grind or two of pepper and extra Parmesan.
Politics and Bacon [Bacon Fried Wild Rice with Asparagus & Pea Shoots]
Let me open by saying I am going to keep this short and sweet. It’s the Canadian Leaders Debate and I’m trying my hardest to focus and take it in.
Because we’re friends, I’m going to level with you. I abhor politics. I know it’s important to be an informed citizen. I know. You need not wag the finger of shame at me. I do vote, and I try my best to make informed decisions. But when it comes to reading articles about corporate tax breaks or costly F-35 fighter jet purchases, I just can’t help but bob my head in an effort to stay awake. So I’m trying to make a valiant effort tonight. Though, since we’re being honest, my writing at the same time as ‘watching’ is probably not the best way to stay focused. But um, I’m trying? Assuming something shiny doesn’t catch my eye, of course. I should also mention that, in my case, ’watching’ can be defined as ‘making fun of outfits, accents, and chuckling about leaders trying to relate with the 20-something generation’. I’m a very responsible Canadian. (Please don’t deport me).
I was so excited to share this dish with you that I don’t even care that it’s another wild rice recipe. I hope you feel the same way once we’re finished here. It’s a perfectly easy, not-especially healthy take on fried rice. Bacon fried rice, actually. Did your heart jump there? Maybe just a little? If not, maybe we shouldn’t be friends. Ok, we can still be friends. But you owe me. I rounded out the recipe with some lightly roasted asparagus and raw pea shoots. The fresh flavour from the asparagus and shoots really helps cut the rich bacon flavour which I loved.
Vegetarians, feel free to use a vegetable oil in place of the bacon fat. Some browned tofu would be lovely in place of the bacon.
This would make a great side dish, but is equally satisfying as lunch or dinner.
Bacon Fried Wild Rice with Roasted Asparagus & Pea Shoots
3 cups cooked wild rice
6 slices bacon, cut into 1” pieces
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2+ tbsp dark soy sauce, based on personal taste
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 1-2” chunks
Salt and pepper
2 handfuls fresh pea shoots + extra for garnish
3 green onions, sliced diagonally
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the bacon and stir occasionally until crisp. Reserve 2tbsp of the bacon drippings and discard the rest. Let bacon drain on paper towels until ready to use.
In a roasting pan, add the chunks of asparagus, and a good drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Roast 5-6 minutes, just until it’s bright green but still has some bite to it.
In a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add the 2tbsp bacon drippings and diced onion. Cook until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the rice, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook until warmed through. Make a well in the centre of the rice and add the egg. Whisk slightly with a fork and toss with the rice until cooked through, 5-6 minutes. There shouldn’t be much liquid left in the pan at this point. Taste for seasoning and add more soy sauce or sesame oil as needed.
Add in the bacon, asparagus, pea shoots and green onions. Toss briefly until combined and serve garnished with fresh pea shoots.
Do(ug)h!! [Shaved Asparagus Pizza]
I’m on a roll here, folks. Two dough recipes in less than 48 hours that actually turned out the way they were supposed to. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m thinking about buying a lottery ticket.
With the recent success of my pot-pie crust, which was flaky and tender and not at all over-worked and tough like usual, I decided to keep the streak going and give my arch nemesis, the dreaded hard as a rock pizza dough, another shot. I don’t know why, but for some reason I just can’t manage to make a pizza crust turn out the way it’s supposed to. It’s always tough and way too crunchy to enjoy. Zut alors!
Now, I know that asparagus isn’t in season so it’s impossible to buy local and yaddayadda I’m terrible and so on… but dammit, I wanted to try this pizza. And sometimes you just have to be bad to get some good. (It’s a little sad that my idea of being bad involves buying California asparagus out of season. I’ve always told you I was a wild woman. I digress.) Perhaps my hankering for spring made the decision to buy less than perfect asparagus easier. Have you looked outside today?
If you like pizza but aren’t really into tomato sauce, which seems to be a lot more common recently, this pie is for you. It’s covered in a layer of cheese, topped with a grassy layer of shaved asparagus, and finished with some cracked black pepper and a drizzle of fruity olive oil. Now, doesn’t that sound good? You know what makes it even better? Minimal ingredients and it took me 10 minutes at most (that is, after letting the dough sit for a measly hour and a half) to throw together. Perfectly acceptable as a weeknight dinner if you get the dough started and do your running around while it’s resting.
If you don’t like asparagus, I think shaved fennel or parsnips would be a wonderful alternative.
Shaved Asparagus Pizza
adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Nervous Chef
Makes 1 thin crust 12-inch pizza
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need 1-2tbsp extra)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound asparagus (7-8 big large spears)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil (I used two, I like olive oil a lot)
Several grinds black pepper
Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.
Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl where you had mixed it, dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
Dump it back on the floured counter and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature (500 in most cases). If using a stone, preheat the oven with the stone in it. I usually prepare the pizza on a cutting board sprinkled with cornmeal so I can easily slide the pizza from the board to the preheated stone easily.
Prepare your asparagus by holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler, create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks. Sizes and thickness of shavings may vary, no need to be too particular. Discard the tough ends or save and freeze for future use in stocks.
Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Place on cornmealed cutting board or movable surface. Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan, then mozzarella. Pile asparagus on top. Drizzle with olive oil and cracked pepper. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the asparagus might be lightly charred.
Slice and serve. If you value your shape, don’t eat 4.5 slices like I did. This just in, I’m a heffer.
A Cleansing Journey
I took a journey today.
Into some of the darkest depths, through vast cold spaces and sparse dry-lands. At times I feared I would return home empty handed…but I emerged unscathed and with something beautiful to share with you all.
I’m speaking, of course, about cleaning out the fridge and pantry. Not always the most elegant of tasks but a) it feels so good once it’s done and b) you often come out of it with some good pieces to use for a meal.
I came out with a bunch of bits and bobs that had only days before I would have to lay them to rest. In order to not let them pass through life untouched, and unfulfilled - I decided to have a salad and invite them all to join.
The guest of honour was a little produce bag full of red quinoa, which I had bought when I was feeling a little adventurous a while back but never used [surprise, surprise!]. The other attendees included - toasted pecans, caramelized onions, chunks of bright green, surprisingly ripe [given they had been there for about 5 days] avocados, ever-so-slightly roasted asparagus spears, and some crumbled feta. The flavours/textures/colours couldn’t have been more perfect for each other. They all brought something great to the table, like any good party guests should.
I don’t have a recipe for this, per se, since it’s pretty self explanatory but a few instructions should help you along the way.
For the caramelized onions:
Dice two small onions. In a medium, heavy bottomed saute pan put 2 tbsp butter/olive oil and let melt over medium-high heat. Add onions. Stir every so often until well browned [+/- 30 minutes].
For the asparagus:
Preheat oven to 400. Slice asparagus diagonally into 1 or 2 inch [or whatever you would prefer] pieces. Toss with a pinch of salt and pepper and enough olive oil to just coat your spears. Roast for 5-7 minutes until bright green, and still slightly crunchy.
For the pecans:
In a saute pan over medium heat, pour in your pecans [or pine nuts, walnuts, almonds etc etc. I just happened to have pecans.] and toss ever few minutes until you can smell them. They should only be on for about 6-7 minutes.
It looks especially lovely when it’s all seperated into it’s specific ingredients but I won’t hold it against you if you smoosh, smoosh, mix, mash it all together. It tastes best that way, anyhow.
Roasted Radish, Asparagus, and Brussels Sprouts with Dijon/Balsamic Vinagrette
It’s been hot here in Ottawa lately. And when I say “hot”, I really mean HOT. It’s cooled in the past few days but for a while there I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be able to peel myself off the hardwood to make/eat anything but freezies, ice cream [specifically Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream in Fifth Town 70% Chocolate Chevre. Mega swooon!] and raw veggies.
When your weather in Ottawa is hotter than Cancun, Mexico… you know there is something wonky going on up there. [Despite my best friend/boyfriend/any sane person telling me I’m being ridiculous, I’m totally one of those panicky 2012 cases that thinks everything is going to im/explode on December 31st, 2011. I can’t help it!]
Anyhow, moving right past my extremely delusional, gullible take on our weather… I decided today was a good day to turn on the oven for the first time in a week and a bit. I needed something I could add to some leftover cooked quinoa for lunch this week.
After digging through the crisper, I decided that radishes, asparagus and brussels sprouts were probably a good choice. [Which are, without a doubt, some of the best vegetables to roast.]
I’ve never been a huge fan of radishes, but when they are roasted they take on this much mellower, nutty taste than when raw. I tossed the roasted veg with a dijon/balsamic vinagrette which was just bang-on.
Roasted Veggies w Dijon/Balsamic Vinagrette
2 bunches radishes, halved lengthwise if large or left whole if small
2 cups asparagus, cut lengthwise into 2 inch pieces
10-15 brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 green onions/scallions, rough chopped
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425.
Add brussels sprouts/radishes to a large roasting pan with olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Toss well to combine. Roast for about 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, take the pan out and add the asparagus to the other veggies and give ity all a good stir. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until everything is nice and carmelized on the outside.
Meanwhile, add all vinagrette ingredients to a food processor and pulse until green onion is in small pieces.
Once veggies are cooked, toss with vinagrette.
At this point you can serve the veggies/vinagrette as a side dish, with a salad, on top of your favourite grain or pasta etc etc etc.
File Under: Food Porn
[What? Like you’re surpsied I’m eating eggs AGAIN? Well damned if I didn’t buy too many and need to use them up. Don’t you judge me]