Feasting at Home : Spring Asparagus Salad

Apr 10, 2014

Spring Asparagus Salad


 
There is a morning inside you waiting to burst open into Light. 
~Rumi~

They are everywhere - buttercups, crocuses, little blue scillas, and budding syringa, all telltale signs of Spring. The earth is warming up and oh my, it feels so incredibly good. In Spring, all of a sudden, anything seems possible, doesn't it?  I have a serious case of Spring fever, and I plan to ride this wave as long as possible. 

Another sure sign of Spring is asparagus. It's also everywhere and at last, reasonable priced. We've been buying it up by the case for catering, and of course the leftovers get to come home.  In this asparagus salad recipe,  asparagus gets roasted and tossed with Israeli Cous Cous, kalamata olives, feta and a lemony dressing. It can be served warm, as a tasty side to fish, poultry or beef - or served chilled, as a hearty spring salad.  If you are going gluten free, substitute quinoa or wild rice. 
As a side note, be sure to try asparagus for breakfast sometime….here's one of my favorite recipes.


When trimming asparagus, hold a piece in your hand and break off the bottom end with your fingers. Where ever this naturally breaks, is how much you want to trim off the rest of the asparagus. Sometimes this can be painful, because it can be 2 to 3 inches of stem that doesn't get used, but those ends will most likely be very woody and chewy.



Roasting asparagus is one of the easiest, tastiest ways to prepare it, second to grilling. Toss the spears with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest and place in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes ( depending on how thick the spears are) and when they come out, they will be crisp and delicious. Sometimes I'll drizzle in a little balsamic vinegar as well.


In this dish, you can roast the asparagus (preferred) --or if pressed for time, toss bite size pieces of asparagus in the boiling pot of Israeli cous cous, right at the very end, for a quick 1-2 minute blanch. Then drain together. 

Israeli cous cous, if unfamiliar, is similar to regular cous cous in that its made from flour, like pasta, but it's bigger in size and looks like tiny pearls.  It can be found in most bulk sections of the grocery store. If unavailable, try orzo pasta or regular cous cous. 


While the cous cous is cooking, make the simple dressing.


Then, once the cous cous is cooked and asparagus is roasted,  just toss all the ingredients together in a bowl with the dressing-- kalamata olives, feta, lemon zest, pine nuts (optional). I like adding tarragon, especially in Spring, but if its not your thing, mint, Italian parsley or other tender herbs work well too. 

Serve warm right away, or chill for later. 









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Spring Asparagus Cous Cous
Serve warm as a side dish, or  chilled as an Asparagus salad
Ingredients:
1-2 bunches asparagus
2 Cups Cous Cous (uncooked)
½ Cup kalamata olives ( pitted, sliced)
½ Cup feta
½ toasted pine nuts ( optional)
Handful fresh mint, tarragon or Italian parsley
Zest from one lemon


Dressing:
⅓ C olive oil
3 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 Tablespoon Red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
425 F oven.
Trim the tough ends of the asparagus off. Lay them on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 T olive oil, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and cracked pepper, and half of the lemon zest. Roast in the oven until just tender, about 20-25 minutes. Cut into bite size pieces. (Alternatively, for faster preparation, blanch bite size pieces of asparagus, along with the cous cous, during the last 2 minutes of the cous cous's cooking time.)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 2 cups Israeli Cous Cous, and cook until al dente.

While cous cous is cooking, make the dressing. In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together.

Drain cous cous, and place in a large bowl. Toss it with the dressing, olives, asparagus, feta, pine nuts, fresh herbs and lemon zest. Serve warm, or chill and serve as a salad. 
Cook time: 20mins Total time: Yield: 4-6



6 comments:

  1. Um, YUM. Some of my very favorite things, and may I just say... those are the loveliest lemon zest curls I've ever seen! ;) Thanks for sharing!

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  2. This salad screams spring, love everything about it!

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  3. Awesome post .i hope everybody will like your post

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  4. I just made this and it is scrumptious!

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