Thursday, January 1, 2015

Warm Mushroom and Asparagus Salads

Choose from two warm asparagus salads for a healthy start to your New Year.

Cook's notes: Warm Asparagus and Mushroom Salad is a wonderful combination of flavors and textures. Optional adding in bacon, chopped tomatoes and serving on salad greens. 
Recipe adapted  from laaloosh.com
Ingredients:
  • 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems trimmed 
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 large scallions, chopped
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • optional adding 4 cups mixed salad greens, 5 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled and 1 medium tomato chopped
Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in asparagus, and steam covered for about 3 minutes until crisp tender. Drain and cover to keep warm.
  • While water is coming to a boil, heat oil in a medium sized nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add in mushrooms, garlic and cook until mushrooms are tender, about 2-3 min. 
  • Add to skillet vinegar, dried thyme, salt and pepper, chopped tomato, asparagus. Toss well to coat and cook on low heat 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 
  • Add chopped scallions to asparagus salad, bacon bits if adding and serve immediately. Option serving mushroom/asparagus mixture over salad greens.   
Warm Mushroom and Asparagus Salad
This vegetable salad is filled with a flavorful blend of goat cheese, dates, pecans, and drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Recipe adapted from MidwestLiving.com and serves 4. 
Ingredients:
  • 1 LB.fresh asparagus spears or one 10-ounce package frozen asparagus spears
  • 2 TB. bottled Italian salad dressing
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 5-ounce package baby mixed salad greens
  • 1/4 cup snipped pitted whole dates
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup pecans pieces, toasted
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped. optional 
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Directions:
  • Snap off and discard woody bases from fresh asparagus. Cut fresh asparagus into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket. Bring water to boiling. Evenly arrange fresh or frozen asparagus in steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat; steam for 2 minutes. Remove. 
  • Arrange asparagus in a baking pan. Drizzle Italian salad dressing over asparagus. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. If you like, broil asparagus 4 inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • To serve, arrange greens on 4 large salad plates or 4 dinner plates. Sprinkle dates on top of the greens. Sprinkle with goat cheese and pecans. Arrange asparagus on top. If you like, top with chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with some of the Balsamic Vinaigrette. Serve immediately. 
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, Pomegranate Quince Balsamic Vinegar, Honey-Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar or Cara Cara Orange Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 TB. packed brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or Blood orange Olive Oil
Directions:
  • In a food processor or blender, combine balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cover and process or blend until smooth. 
  • With processor or blender running, gradually add olive oil and process or blend until combined. Serve immediately or cover and store in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Stir just before serving. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Blanching Asparagus. This is a common way to quickly cook asparagus to perfection and serve it cold in salads or as a luncheon side dish. If you'd prefer to serve the asparagus warm, skip the ice water bath. Here's how to blanch asparagus:
  • Boil a large pot of water and 2 teaspoons of salt.
  • Place the asparagus in the water and let it cook for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes.
  • Test an asparagus spear for doneness- it should still be crispy, not limp.
  • If you wish, plunge the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to cool it down.

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