Tag Archives: asparagus

Asparagus and Ricotta Flatbread

Remember that time I admitted to my fear of yeast and then resolved to get over it? Two-plus years later and it hasn’t happened … I still cringe every time I hear the word, and have yet to make a yeasted bread.

130421_asparagus pizza 5

My excuse? There are plenty, most of which are exceedingly flimsy:

a) I don’t have time to sit around kneading and rising and kneading and rising. (Since I’m still sick and watching episode after episode of The League resting, this is mostly untrue.)

b) There’s zero counter space for me to actually knead anything, which is why I haven’t made any pies or pizzas recently either. (This kitchen is actually bigger than my last one, as 1-1/2 people can fit in it at the same time.)

c) It’s starting to get warm out, which means keeping the oven on for hours is slowly losing its appeal. (As evidenced by this recipe, that’s not really stopping me.)

d) I’m trying to cut back on my bread eating, as part of an overall effort to shore up my diet for summer. (Trying and failing would be more accurate.)

e) There’s an abundance of bread recipes out there in the world that don’t require yeast, and a lot of them look pretty awesome.

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That last reason is pretty compelling, as it turns out you don’t need any fungus to make a wide array of good bread. The Irish are all over this with their soda bread, but there’s also this gorgeous seeded bread, Mark Bittman’s beer bread, and this amazing flatbread recipe, which in its original form requires only three ingredients and three steps.

The recipe, from Top With Cinnamon (and courtesy of Nila), is amazing heavenly perfection and all the other superlatives in the world. It’s so easy that it is literally foolproof (trust me, I tried hard to break the recipe and still couldn’t) and can be gussied up a million ways — cinnamon sticks, pizza breadsticks, cheddar beer bread, rosemary-garlic focaccia … SO. MANY. IDEAS. In its almost-original form, it’s got a crisp and craggy exterior and a plush interior, with a nice balance between the malty, caramelly flavor of the beer and the savory herbs.

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I topped the flatbread with a shaved asparagus salad and my new favorite discovery: goat’s milk ricotta. It has the creaminess of ricotta plus the tanginess of goat cheese, and paired nicely with the grassy, crisp asparagus. I bought it through Fresh Direct, but if you can’t find it, either regular ricotta or softened chevre will work too. The end result is a lovely spring lunch, no yeast necessary. Continue reading

Farro Salad with Asparagus and Feta

farro salad 4

The benefits of eating local, meaning eating food grown or raised near you*, are manifold: eschewing long transit time means that food is more fresh, tastes better and retains more of its nutrients. Peaches grown in Jersey in July will always taste better than peaches grown in Chile in February, and I love strolling through the farmer’s market, talking to the people who grow my food.

(True story: when I was buying the tomatoes for this salad, I got to the register and then realized I didn’t have enough cash on me to pay, so I set the tomatoes down. The farmer told me to take the tomatoes anyway and pay him back next week. Not the best business model, but so nice of him!)

But kind farmers aside, eating local is always hardest this time of year. Winter-vegetable fatigue has set in — I’ve eaten all of the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts and kale and squash a girl could want. I’m ready for lighter, greener fare, but the farmer’s markets (at least here in NYC) are still laden with cellar-stored apples and potatoes.

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So last weekend at the grocery store, I succumbed to the temptation of pencil-thin asparagus, calling me like sirens from their California-raised rocks. (Let’s not talk about the sad white-bellied strawberries I bought, which bear only a passing resemblance to their summer-ripened cousins.) But these asparagus, despite their cross-country flight, were pretty freakin’ delicious. They were crisp and verdant and lovely, especially with a hefty squeeze of lemon and  crumbles of tangy feta.

Farro, the whole grain of emmer wheat, has quickly become my new go-to grain. It is nutty and chewy (similar to barley in that regard) and since I bought a pearled version, it cooks as quickly as pasta. You could swap in penne or even quinoa instead of the farro, but I highly recommend trying it if you can find it.

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This farro salad is more of a template for my favorite kind of warm-weather eating: barely cooked vegetable + whole grain + cheese. I can’t wait to make this again, using asparagus from my ‘hood, or later on, peas, favas or other beans and even summer squash (just saying the word is getting me excited). But until spring’s bounty begins to pop up at the farmer’s market, this California asparagus will have to do.

*How near? It depends. The government defines local as a 400-mile radius, while others opt for a 250- or even 100-mile radius. If you’re interested in learning more about the pros (and cons!) of eating local, as well as how to get started, here are a few resources. Continue reading

Asparagus and Chorizo Hash

Sorry peeps to be so AWOL. I’ve been a little busy drinking iced coffee, strolling through parks, basking in sunshine and smelling the beautiful flowers that have recently sprung up. The warm weather leaves a grin perma-plastered on my face and adds a new ailment to my string of health issues: spring fever.

I even managed to carve out a spring break of sorts, using a few extra vacation days to head home to Maryland for some quality “reading outdoors” time. Unexpectedly, my visit coincided with peak cherry blossom season, one of the most beautiful times of the year to visit D.C. Naturally, I dragged my family to the Tidal Basin because I wanted to take pictures … and maybe sit by the water in the sun for a few hours.

Buoyed by an afternoon of springtime perfection, I’ve craved light, refreshing fare all week. I’ve got my eye on this salad (I’ve become quite the avocado fan lately!) and these tarts, but I couldn’t resist leaping on the pencil-thin asparagus bundles I spotted at the store the other day.

I have a special place in my heart for hashes, since they can be eaten at any time of day or night, form a delicious bed for a runny egg yolk and can be dressed up or down in a million ways. The only necessities are crisped potato cubes, fried onions and usually, some meat. I’ve had beet hash, carrot hash, bell pepper hash, Brussels sprouts, mushroom … hash with corned beef, short ribs, turkey, sausage — basically, anything and everything goes.

This asparagus and chorizo hash, with crisp, verdant asparagus and spicy, smoky chorizo, is kind of perfect. While I didn’t top it with a fried egg today, thankfully, I’ve got a skillet full of leftovers. I think this would also be delicious with chopped hard-boiled eggs, if you’re packing it for a work lunch and don’t have the ability to fry up an egg on the spot.

Asparagus is ubiquitous this time of year, so while I’m sure you have your go-to recipes, I highly recommend you add this to your breakfast or lunch or dinner rotation. Or you could be like me, and add it to all three.

Continue reading

Roasted Asparagus

Roasted veggies, that is.

Since spring is almost over, I had to make asparagus at least once before its season ended. It’s one of my favorite veggies, but a crazy semester left me little time for cooking. There was a sale at the supermarket today, so I pounced and grabbed a bundle. Roasted asparagus tastes delicious, so I thought it would make a great snack while my family waited for my mom to finish making dinner. The recipe is super easy:

Next time remember, please add salt!

Roasted Asparagus

– 1 bundle asparagus

– juice from half a lemon

– 1 clove garlic, minced or grated

– olive oil

– salt and pepper to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Trim the ends off the asparagus spears, leaving the tops on. Lay them flat on a baking sheet lined with tin foil.

2) Drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic over the spears. Add salt and pepper.

3) Roast them in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the spears are slightly charred but retain their snap.

[print recipe in PDF form]

Sounds simple, right? Well, of course I managed to mess it up by forgetting to add salt. I didn’t notice the difference, but my family did — they’ll never forget that asparagus!

New Veggies “Spring” into Action

Spring is finally here, which means a whole new basket of vegetables to cook with. I love spring veggies. Asparagus, snow peas, baby carrots and leafy greens like spinach — what’s not to like?

Yesterday, I learned a quick and easy risotto recipe that takes full advantage of the new bounty, courtesy of Keith’s sister.

Springboard Risotto
Recipe from Kim

– 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice

– 7 cups chicken stock (or you can use any mix of white wine, water and stock, and use vegetable stock rather than chicken if you want to keep it vegetarian-friendly)

– 6 tablespoons butter, softened

– 1 medium onion (or 4 shallots, finely chopped)

– 2 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

– salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot. Saute the onions until they are lightly browned.

2) Add the rice and 6 cups of chicken stock. Cook until absorbed, adding stock as necessary.

3) Toss in the Parmesan. Add salt and pepper.

The recipe is super easy, and can be altered to include any combination of your favorite spring vegetables. Try it with asparagus and snow peas: steam the asparagus and peas in chicken broth (or vegetable broth or water) for a few minutes and then run them under cold water (or stick them in a bowl of ice water) to keep them nice and green. Add them to the risotto in Step 3.

[print recipe in PDF form]

Note: If you’re in the mood for a spinach salad, check out this recipe from Keith.