Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Asparagus Salad

It's springtime where I live.  That means it's getting to be asparagus season. I love asparagus!

Apparently, I'm the odd one in my house.  Dear hubby isn't fond of it, which is strange because he grew up in family that loves all things wild. I know his parents used to hunt, fish, camp, and pick wild watercress and asparagus to go with their catch du jour.

The kiddos, well picky little kids can be pretty hesitant to eat anything green.  My son is just finally starting to eat green peas. He likes broccoli, so I've been nagging him to eat "dragon grass" for about two years. I started calling it Dragon grass because he loves dragons and calling anything "dragon" makes it sound cool.

Green tea? Not cool. Dragon tea? Cool.  (Because Celestial Seasoning's Authentic Green Tea has a dragon on the box.)

Asparagus? Not cool. Dragon grass? Cool. (Are you familiar with Dragon Tales? Kids wishing themselves into a dragon universe? Jumbo-sized flowers and plants...)

See what I mean?

Now if only Campbell's could make some dragon pasta and put a dragon on the can so I could get him to eat chicken soup. And no, I can't just draw one on the can. He would totally catch on that it was me.

Anyhow, it's nice to try something on the family and have them actually end up liking it. Eric was with me at the store and was super excited to help me pick out the bunches of asparagus. I like having him help me shop and cook because it also encourages him to eat what he's helped me make.  That's a good thing for a picky eater.

Ingredients
1 lb fresh asparagus
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella balls, "perlini" size
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced into chiffonade ribbons
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove smashed, peeled and minced

Method
1. Trim asparagus.  First, I break off the woody stem ends simply by breaking.  They will snap where the stem stops being tender and delicious. Toss the woody end. Then cut all stems into about 1-inch pieces.


2. Bring about 2 quarts of water to a boil salted with 1 teaspoon salt. Add asparagus pieces and boil gently for 3 minutes. 

3. Immediately remove the asparagus from the hot water and cool it in an ice bath. Cooling quickly keeps the bright green color and prevents it from staying warm and getting mushy. Drain well and place in a mixing bowl.

4. Combine onion, tomatoes, cheese and basil with the asparagus.


5. In a separate small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Drizzle over the vegetables, then gently toss to combine.


6. Serve cold, or sort of cool. Makes enough for about 8 people.