May 11, 2017 Spring Salad

Saturday morning was the first local outdoor farmers market of the season and I was ready to seek out some old favorites, and gain a little inspiration for a salad to accompany that night’s dinner. Local for me is the Wrightstown Farmers Market, about three miles from our house. It is held every Saturday, rain or shine from the first Saturday in May to the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The hours are from 9 to 1 but there was already a sizable crowd when I pulled in at 8:45.
The favorites I was looking for, some drip ground coffee from The Coffee Scoop for Sunday morning, the Guatemalan variety is exceptionally smooth. It wouldn’t be a visit without a stop to visit The Dog Bone Guy. I have to load up on cookies for our furry boys.

I love to create salads and spring is a great time to take advantage of the garden’s first offerings. I saw signs this week for local asparagus as I was driving around our area. I located several vendors offering asparagus and chose a bunch of fat purple asparagus and a leaner green bunch. The other two purchases I made for the salad were a bunch of plump red radishes and some shiitake mushrooms. Fortified with an orange cranberry scone I was ready to see what I could find in our own garden.

We have a wonderful crop of salad greens, a mesclun mix and Lollo Rosso, thanks to Joe’s hard work. Along with greens, we have spinach and miner’s lettuce, staples of early spring salads. So I picked a combination and went to work.

In winter months I usually roast asparagus but I thought that steaming would bring out the sweetness of the newly picked stalks. Next, what to do with the shiitake mushrooms? I use shiitake, both dried and fresh quite often but never raw in a salad. Was it okay to use raw shiitakes in a salad? Some quick research revealed a condition, shiitake dermatitis, that manifests in dark red blistering welts.  A component in shiitakes, lentinan, breaks down with heat so this reaction only occurs when the mushrooms are raw or partially cooked. Not certain if  I wanted to find out if we were one of the nine in five hundred people who react, I chose to add them to my steamer basket. The last addition, a little leftover smoked salmon. The sweetness of the asparagus combines perfectly with the smoky, saltiness of the salmon.

I made a very basic vinaigrette with some fines herbes, the perfect addition to a spring salad and garnished with some chervil flowers.

Spring Salad

Serves two

Ingredients for the Salad

  • Assorted  greens, 5-6 cups I used lettuces, miner’s lettuce and spinach
  • 2 or 3 medium radishes
  • 3 large spears of asparagus
  • Fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • Smoked salmon

Ingredients for Vinaigrette

  • 2 T grapefruit balsamic vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T fines herbes (combination of parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives
  • Chervil flowers to garnish the salad
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Tear lettuces into bite sized pieces in a large bowl. Slice radishes thinly and add to the salad bowl.
  2. Cut asparagus into bite sized diagonal pieces. Discard the mushroom stems and cut the caps into thin slices. Steam the asparagus and mushrooms until tender. Mushroom caps will take about 3 minutes, thick asparagus pieces about 5-6 minutes. Pat dry  with paper towels and allow to cool. Add to the salad bowl
  3. Break the smoked salmon into bite sized chunks and add to the salad bowl.
  4. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss lightly. Divide salad on two plates. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

 

March 24, 2012 Quick Chicken Saute with Asparagus, Peppers and Tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait for the produce to start appearing in the farmer’s markets and in our garden. Until then I will have to make do with what looks reasonable in the supermarkets. Last night’s dinner was inspired by a recipe on the Fine Cooking  magazine website. The original recipe was titled, Quick Chicken Saute with Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes and Lemon Pan Sauce. A good foundation that I would make some changes to.  Quick sounded good to me, I could have all the elements ready and just wait for Joe to tell me he was on his way home. The recipe called for chicken breast, I chose to use chicken thighs. I have found that chicken thighs are moister in a sauteed dish. I doubled the asparagus, added a julienned yellow pepper and substituted readily available cherub tomatoes for the definitely seasonal cherry tomatoes. Any leftover vegetables, and there were not many, could be added to the next morning’s omelet or runny egg dish. The dish also called for some minced fresh basil at the end, but I would prefer to wait until it is really in season. I substituted sun dried tomato pesto to amplify the tomato flavor.  The result was a quick, tasty weeknight dinner. The only change I would make next time would be a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese to the finished dish.

Quick Chicken Saute with Asparagus, Peppers and Tomatoes

Serves two

  • 3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T plus 2 t  olive oil
  • 12 small “cherub” tomatoes
  • 12 medium asparagus spears, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2″ pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper cut into julienned strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 T  sun dried tomato pesto
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese to grate over the dish
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 T oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add the tomatoes, pepper and asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened, and asparagus and pepper are golden brown around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and keep warm.
  2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the pan and add the chicken. Cook, turning occasionally, until the chicken is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add chicken to the vegetables.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and heat remaining 2t oil in the pan. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and lemon juice and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits in the pan and blend into the sauce, stir in the sun dried tomato pesto.  Simmer sauce for three minutes, reduce to medium low and add the butter. Stir in the chicken, vegetables and the juices that remain.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grate a little Parmesan over the dish if desired and serve immediately.

Notes-the cherub tomatoes have a tougher skin than cherry tomatoes so they may need to be “coaxed” to burst with the tip of a sharp knife. Other vegetables may be added or substituted, zucchini, mushrooms etc.