One of my favorite memories growing up was picking wild fresh asparagus when visiting my aunt and uncle in Nebraska. Picking this strange vegetable fresh and then cooking it up solidified my love of asparagus.
It was because of this fond childhood memory that a couple of years ago I tried growing it to no success. For the past two years I have nurtured and watered and tried to keep my little asparagus plants alive. Unfortunately this spring the plant was just dead.
So, I headed to Trader Joes to pick my asparagus instead of enjoying it fresh from the garden. Since I am constantly trying to get more vegetables into my daily diet as well as preaching to all my clients to eat more veggies I thought I would be a good time to help all of you construct your own Spring Salad.
The base of this salad is a roasted combination of asparagus, shallots, and garlic. This alone can be eaten as a side with protein. However if you really want to elevate your vegetables for a meal you can make an entire salad. Here’s how:
1. Roast the asparagus, garlic, & shallots
First, prepare the asparagus. Asparagus has a woody end to it which needs to be removed before eating. When I prepare the spears I usually grab the end and middle of one and see where it naturally breaks. From there I use that spear as a guide on where to cut the rest of the spears. Then I cut those in half.
After the asparagus is cut and ready, then prepare the garlic cloves and shallots. For the recipes I usually smash and chop the garlic. With the shallots I make thin slices.
Place the asparagus, garlic, and shallots on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil about 1 -2 tablespoons and add salt and pepper. Toss and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes. The cooking time really depends on how thick the asparagus is. For thicker cook longer.
While the asparagus is cooking make the rest of the salad.
2. Clean the lettuce and toss with some olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
I start with a base of whatever lettuce I have in the fridge. Today I had butter lettuce so I used that as a base but really any fresh lettuce will do. With this salad I add a very simple dressing. It consists of tossing the lettuce only with about ½ teaspoon of olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Then I add a little salt and pepper and toss the lettuce leaves.
If you want to add your own light vinaigrette then go ahead, but I find the roasted veggies and the light dressing add enough flavor.
3. Cut up the rest of the veggies. I looked to see what other veggies I already had on hand to add in and today it was carrots and cucumbers. Other great veggies to add in right now are peas, radishes, avocado, or tomatoes.
4. Make it a meal.
Salad is great just like this but I wanted to make it a complete meal so I
added some sirloin tips (this is the recipe I used) and about a tablespoon of feta. You can add any protein (chicken, garbanzo beans, etc) or nuts. I like to add pine nuts or pecans but really any will do.
Sprinkling cheese over top just helps to add a little more flavor. I used feta but parmesan is also a good one.
Use these instructions for making a single serving, for multiple salads you would need to adjust olive oil and vinegar to dress your greens.
I like to make all the ingredients, store separately and then mix the salad together to make the meal.
So, now its time to construct your own Spring salad! Click the link below for the full recipe.