This simple shaved asparagus salad is one of my favorite meals lately – I’ve been making it about once a week and I never seem to get tired of it!
The first time I made this dish, I had actually planned to use the ingredients in a croque madame inspired asparagus tart. However, looking at the delicate spring asparagus, it seemed like a shame to subject them to the long roasting time required by that recipe. I had seen shaved asparagus salads before and figured that I’d give that a try instead. I’m so glad that I did! Shaving the asparagus into thin ribbons and cooking it just long enough to make it tender is the perfect way to highlight asparagus at the peak of its season. Combined with salty bacon, buttery cheese, and a quick vinaigrette makes this some of the best asparagus you’ve ever tasted.
I’m sitting at an airport Starbucks right now, waiting for my flight to DC for Eat, Write Retreat. The people sitting behind me keep glancing over like “What is that crazy girl doing with a million pictures of food?” (Hi people reading over my shoulder!) Anyway, it’s going to be a great weekend, and I hope to come home with new skills and fresh inspiration that will help make this blog better. I’m really excited!
I’m also really excited about last night’s dinner – I just couldn’t wait any longer to share it. I really enjoyed the Southwest lentil patties that I created for the lentil challenge that I participated in last year, and I knew that I wanted to do a fresh take on them this year. This time, I put a Moroccan spin on the patties, with lots of lemon zest, cardamom, and za’atar. They had a wonderfully bright flavor and a great falafel-like texture with a crispy exterior and a soft, velvety center. Served over a salad inspired by some gorgeous kale that I picked up at the Schenectady Green Market, this was a light, yet super filling dinner that we both enjoyed immensely.
For any of you from the Capital Region who love the Troy Market but have never been to the one in Schenectady, I urge you to check it out! It’s on Sundays, which a little inconvenient for me (I like to plan y weekly menu and get my shopping out of the way on Saturday) but I really love it. The atmosphere is more intimate than the Troy market and the produce seems rawer and a little rough around the edges — but in a good way! There are always unique items to be found, like mustard greens, this amazing Russian red kale, and white beets. Whereas I tend to leave the Troy market with tons of prepared foods, I leave the Schenectady market with arms full of fresh produce and tons of inspiration.
I really wish that I had taken a photo of this kale before I chopped it up — it was stunningly beautiful. It seemed like a shame to cook it, and I remembered the massaged kale salad that I had when I visited Northern Spy Food Company. Chopping up the kale and literally giving it a nice long massage with some salt draws out all of the bitter liquid and allows you to eat it raw. Be sure to start out with lots of kale though — it loses a ton of volume as you massage it. I started with about 3 cups of loosely packed and ended up with about a half cup once it was ready to eat. It was enough for the two of us but definitely don’t plan to have ay left over.
When strawberries are in season, I just can’t get enough. Which is probably why my mind immediately went to them as I was dreaming up lentil recipes last weekend. I hesitated for a second, then added the ingredients to my list.
I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive about how my strawberry and lentil salad with peppered tuna would come out. All of the ingredients seemed like they would work — strawberries, basil, black, pepper and balsamic vinegar are all amazing together — but I couldn’t help worry that the final dish would be a dud. I worried that it would be bland. Boring. Imagining final dish made me drool, but I worried that I wouldn’t be able to translate it into an edible dinner.
I shouldn’t have worried. This dish surpassed even my wildest dreams. Bursting with flavor, it was anything but boring. I couldn’t help but smile as I ate — this meal could easily have made an appearance on a menu at the best restaurant in town. I had seconds of the salad. Shawn had seconds of the salad (which is saying a lot, considering it was undeniably healthy).
I always tell people not to be intimidated by cooking, that if something sounds good it probably will be. And that if it’s not, the worst that will happen is that they’ll end up throwing it out and ordering take-out. That anyone can cook food that is healthy and delicious. I guess I need to take my own advice.