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Asparagus

Spring Nicoise Salad

Spring Nicoise Salad

Spring is made for salads, especially those tossed with asparagus fresh from the farm. Nothing beats a topping of crisp radishes, too, to compliment the butteriness of the season’s lettuce.

Spring Nicoise Salad

This season – which I long to never part – let’s us rethink our salad bowl – which I love. Love. Love. With it, it brings endless light options for lunch that would be a disgrace to label as boring.

Salad can be fun. And this one more than proves that to be so.

Spring Nicoise Salad

Here, asparagus takes the place of the green beans in a classic Nicoise salad. Aside from that, the make-up is pretty straight forward. Hardboiled eggs? Check. Tuna? Check. Thinly sliced onion? Check. Radishes? Check.

For the asparagus, a simple steam actually works well with this salad, given the complexity of the other flavors. However, if roasted spears are your absolute fav., by all means, get the oven going and go for it.

SpringIf you want to get fancy, you could sear some fresh tuna instead and add it on top. Or reserve that fanciness for the olives and bread you may wish to serve alongside this.

Bright, light and easy to assemble, this is spring at its best.  Cheers.

Spring Nicoise Salad

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Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced Sandwich

Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced Sandwich

My first contribution to Greatist went up this week, and it’s a real spring treat. Sure, asparagus may still feel like a novelty at this early point in the season, but it won’t be long until plain ol’ roasted spears begin to lose their excitement. When that point hits, Asparagus Pesto is here to save the day (and save you from wasting any of this vibrant green veggie)!

Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced SandwichAsparagus has a robust two month growing period, within which new spears can shoot up to 6-10 inches tall in just one day. I.e., if you have a garden equipped with asparagus, there will be tons of it. If you don’t, the farmer’s market won’t be running out anytime soon.

Asparagus Pesto and Radish Open-Faced Sandwich

To keep things fresh, have options like this creamy vegan sandwich spread on hand. The slightly sweet, earthy spread goes perfect with peppery radishes and a hearty, crusty bread. Feel free to throw an egg on top, if that’s your style.

Asparagus

Head on over to Greatist for the recipe!

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Guys, serious news here. I think I’ve found my new food obsession. And it goes by the name of Socca.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

On Saturday, I made my first socca – a thin, pancake like crepe derived from chickpea flour. It was an instant hit (on my Instagram, too).

So on Sunday, I made my second one. I brought it to a cookout, and again, I went home with a clean plate.

Now that it’s Monday, I’ll eat my third meal of it, by the way of lunch. And by tomorrow, Tuesday, you can consider me socca-swooned.

I’m declaring right now — June is going to be a month of Socca. Get ready.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

Socca has a flatbread feel to it, with slight falafel-like undertones of flavor, hence the chickpea flour it comes from. However, like a pizza pie, it can take on whatever genre you desire. You choose the ingredient spread, and it will choose the feel of your socca.

For my first one, pictured here, I chose a hearty dose of pesto, paired with a whole bunch more greenery. Feed me this every day of June, and I would be a happy girl.

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Aside from its versatility and tender texture, what blows my mind is how incredibly easy it is to make socca. Forget yeast. Forget dough-rising. And, let’s all praise chickpeas for this, forget kneading. All you need for socca is a 30-minute wait time and a handy spatula. Oh, and ideally, a cast iron pan. (Given how beautiful cast iron can make anything look, I suggest you keep one of those on hand regardless.)

In this variation, you’ll find inspiration from light and fresh spring veggies, richened up with a layer of summer pesto. It’s a pizza-like app/meal that feels so classy and restaurant-worthy, yet entirely attainable in your own home. I recommend you put it on your to-make list. ASAP.

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Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Field

If the thought of pesto, tossed with shaved asparagus and roasted tomatoes, seems far off from camping, I’m with you. But if that thought, along with the image of mint mojitos by the fire, sounds amazing, I’m undoubtedly with you, too. 

This year I learned you need to book a campsite well in advance if you want to tent it out over Memorial Day weekend. Because apparently everyone else wants to do that, too.

So much for spontaneity these days. Oh, and having the planning part covered by mom. Big kid problems.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

I was determined to go camping this Memorial Day, and a bunch of booked campsites wasn’t going to get me down.

Plan B – Camp out at my madre’s house, a haven 2 hours outside the city that might as well be taken from the pages of Henry Thoreau. See field photo above. Not a bad alternative. (Just don’t compare my writing to Thoreau. I prefer a caveman-like brevity to never-ending sentences.)

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Plan B turned into a bunch of Philly and hometown friends joining me for mojitos by the fire made from just picked mint via mom’s herb garden. It turned into watching hot air balloons sail, and then the sun fall, from the comfort of our front deck. It turned into setting up tents in a free backyard. And it turned into a conclusion of sleeping soundly inside.

Ah, yes. A mint-mojito-shaved-asparagus campout was never destined for sleeping outside, was it? To be fair, I will blame my friends for coercing me indoors. And also to be fair, we had one lone camper who roughed it out in his tent.

Asparagus

Now onto the food. While pesto might not seem like standard camping fare, for my vegetarian family, it was always a go-to. It keeps well in a cooler, and tastes fine both hot or cold. Plus, we always make it in large batches during the summer, when the garden basil’s at its peak, so it becomes an easy meal to pop out from the freezer.

It’s still too early to see basil thriving. But both my mom and I still have several pesto batches holding out from last season in our freezer.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

When you’ve got the pesto part already made, sprucing it up to make it a little richer and fancier becomes easy and fathomable. Although, the pesto itself is not hard to make — so even if you don’t get a chance to make it ahead of time, I still recommend taking the time to include the tomatoes and asparagus seen here, too.

Pesto with Shaved Asparagus and Roasted Tomatoes

Asparagus has always been a springtime favorite, but it’s only been recently that I’ve discovered its utility in raw form. Slightly grassy and crisp, here it adds a refreshing and light crunch to what can feel like a full-bodied pasta dish. It pairs well with the tomatoes, whose flavor is drawn out and intensified via a little time in the oven. I love roasted tomatoes, so when I’m making this recipe, I’m roasting extra for me, and me only.

Grape Tomatoes

Maybe this isn’t your ideal grab-and-go camping dish, but it’s definitely an all-star bowl to include at your picnic or BBQ outing. It’s best hot, but still tastes great at room temp., and since it’s vegan, it’ll survive outside, too. Plate it up alongside a hotdog, and I challenge you to determine the winner. My bet’s on the pesto.

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Asparagus with Miso Dressing

Asparagus with Miso Dressing

 

Remember that 5 lb. bag of miso I told you I had? Well, I just got around to putting it to use for the 2nd time. Two teaspoons of it, at least. That’s some serious progress right there.

Inspired by recent Asian eats, and a few fellow bloggers, I decided to whip up a light miso-lime dressing. I used it on a bunch of garden-picked asparagus I snagged from my parents’ house. As I’ve iterated before, there’s nothing like free produce from the field, especially when a pound of asparagus at the store can cost you $3.99. Knowing how rampant and easily asparagus grows, that’s seems a little silly.

Asparagus and lime

My own garden in the city is proving to be a slightly stagnant process.  I long for the day when I’ll finally have a backyard, or a deck, or any outdoor space to easily grow produce. It may be time to move my urban dwelling. But until then, I need to remind myself that tomato season is coming up, and I must, must, must take the 10 min. bike ride down to my friend’s garden and steal a little space from her. If you think asparagus prices are absurd, tomatoes are even worse. Nothing beats a vine-ripened tomato though, so there’s no way I’ll be missing out on those.

 

I recently interviewed a farmer who grew 405 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes alone last year. If that’s not some inspiration to get my butt in the garden, then I might as well be a lost cause. With that (and really just a need to get off the computer and out into my friend’s garden), I leave you with this asparagus recipe. Light, simple and elegant, this is an easy springtime dish (and a great use for miso waiting to be used).

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