Posts Tagged 'asparagus'

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates, and Orange

Good Heavens…it’s trying to be spring. Yes, it’s still only in the 30’s. And the valley is socked in with a grey, dismal, and drizzly fog. But when I woke up this morning there was sunshine, and outside of my window little wisps of cloud were hurrying past…they were so delicate. Outside, from my sunny front deck, I was overlooking the dismal cloud that hung over the valley.

Above the clouds

Above the clouds

And while I was drinking coffee, an entire flock of robins showed up in my garden, frantically hopping around and pecking whatever it is that robins peck at. Oddly enough, under the snow there are green things growing in my garden. I will soon explore them.

This recipe, originally from Cooking Light, always seems like Spring, it is bright and cheery, and a pleasant, if somewhat unusual, mix of flavors. It has asparagus always a spring favorite.  Since you have to chill the asparagus, you can make it the day before.
quinoa asparagus
Combining that with oranges, dates and pine nuts at first seemed questionable.
Quinoa Asparagus Salad ingredients
But the results were great. I brought it to a potluck, because it is the sort of dish that most people can eat. You can also serve it as a side dish.

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Dates, and Orange

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1  cup uncooked quinoa
2  cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup fresh orange sections (about 1 large orange)
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 Tablespoons minced red onion
5  dates,pitted and chopped
1/2 pound  (2-inch) slices asparagus, steamed and chilled
1/2 jalapeño pepper, diced

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons  chopped fresh mint

To prepare salad, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add uncooked quinoa to pan; sauté 5 minutes.
Quinoa cooking
Add 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Quinoa cooking Quinoa cooked
Transfer quinoa mixture to a large bowl. Add orange and next 5 ingredients (through jalapeño); toss gently to combine.

To prepare dressing, combine juice and next 4 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with chopped mint. Serve at room temperature. Makes 8 servings at 6.3 grams of fat/serving.

Quinoa Asparagus salad


Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus with Cheese

This recipe originally called for the asparagus to be wrapped in prosciutto before being wrapped in phyllo. But I was taking it to a Chanukah party, and prosciutto just won’t work for Jews. So I used a bit of Gruyere cheese in each one instead (I know, not anything like prosciutto, but it worked.)

The asparagus gets cooked, but stays crispy. I recommend not using very thick asparagus, since it might not cook enough. Also, once I snapped off the tough bottoms of the asparagus, some of them were kind of short, and didn’t stick out of the phyllo rolls very far. I suppose you could cut the sheets in quarters instead of thirds to remedy this, but I think they were quite nice as is.

This looks like much more work than it is, and has the well-known Wow factor for potlucks. It would be a great appetizer for New Years Eve or any other festive occasion. 60 of these disappeared in less than ½ hour to rave reviews.

Phyllo-Wrapped Asparagus with Cheese

3 ounces grated gruyere cheese
30 asparagus spears, trimmed (be sure to snap off tough ends)
10 (14 x 9-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Place 1 phyllo sheet on a work surface (cover remaining phyllo to prevent drying); [See Note]. Coat phyllo with cooking spray. Cut crosswise into thirds to form 3 (4 1/2 x 9–inch) rectangles.

Put a large pinch of cheese near the bottom of each phyllo strip. Put it primarily in the middle, so that it won’t ooze out when it is rolled. Note that I put it a little way up and not at the very bottom because I wanted to avoid cheese leakage.

Arrange 1 asparagus spear across short end of each rectangle on top of the cheese.

Roll up phyllo dough jelly-roll fashion. Arrange rolls on baking sheet; coat rolls with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining phyllo, cheese, asparagus, and cooking spray.

Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until phyllo is golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 30 rolls, at about 1 gram of fat/roll.

NOTE: My secret technique for working with phyllo: Recipes always tell you to cover the remaining dough with a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out. I haven’t had much luck with this. My remaining dough gets soggy and tears. So I unroll the phyllo sheets completely and, when I take the first sheet off, I spray the next one down with cooking spray. Then I spray the first sheet I am working with. Repeat each time you remove a sheet of dough – it will stay moist enough, and you won’t have to spray it again when you are working with it.

Christmas Asparagus

This was fast and a big hit. Preheat oven to 425. Roasted 2 pounds of asparagus tossed with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a bit of sea salt for 10 minutes.

Be sure to snap off the tough ends of the asparagus before you roast them.

Sauteed 8 thinly sliced roasted  chestnuts, 5-6 thinly sliced small colored peppers and the zest from two small lemons in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until the peppers were slightly wilted, then added the juice of one lemon.

Removed the asparagus from the oven, sprinkled with the juice of the other lemon, and assembled artistically. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

I neglected to take a picture until after it had been half eaten.

Marinated Asparagus Bundles

I was browsing about in other food blogs and noticed that The Go Lightly Gourmet, a blogger with a similar philosophy to mine, published several Cooking Light recipes about asparagus.  What’s not to like about asparagus!  It’s tasty, low fat, and can be very elegant.  And this is the season for fresh asparagus.  Then I recalled that I made a very elegant Cooking Light recipe for the Passover buffet.  It was delicious and beautiful to look at.  I’m not sure if you would call it an appetizer, side dish, or salad, but the little that was left was lovely for lunch the next day.  It is also a make ahead dish, because it needs to marinate, which fits my buffet-making schedule.

To look best, this is should made with thinner asparagus spears. You could also use two colors of  peppers.  It is not hard to make, but allow a little time, because tying the asparagus into little bundles requires some fussing.  I also recommend using more than 10 green onions, because some of the onion ties will be too short or will tear when you get impatient.

Marinated Asparagus Bundles

2 ½ pounds asparagus
10 green onions
2 red bell peppers, cut into 20 strips
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Cover and cook in a small amount of boiling water 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain well. Trim white portion from green onions.  Place green onion tops in a bowl; add boiling water to cover. Drain immediately, and rinse under cold running water.

Gather asparagus into 10 bundles, and add 2 bell pepper strips to each bundle. I actually used 5 asparagus spears/bundle, which meant I had more than 10 bundles, and needed more pepper strips.  I also think that thinner pepper strips would look a little better. Tie each bundle with a green onion strip. Pull the onion ties closed gently. Place bundles in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Combine chopped onion and next 9 ingredients (onion through pepper) in a bowl; stir well. Pour over asparagus bundles. Cover and chill 2 to 8 hours. To serve,gently  remove asparagus bundles from marinade, and discard marinade. Arrange asparagus bundles on a serving platter.  They certainly make an elegant buffet item.  Makes 10 servings (or more depending upon how you divide them) at only 0.3 grams of fat/serving.

Marinated asparagus bundles

Garlicky Asparagus and Tomatoes

For some odd reason, the grocery had asparagus on sale this week – in the fall instead of the spring. And it was glorious asparagus – thin and crisp.  Who could resist.  So I made some very garlicky asparagus in my stir fry pan.  It’s a simple preparation.  The combination of the tart tomatoes and the earthy green taste of the asparagus just explodes in your mouth.

Garlicky Asparagus and Tomatoes

3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup of grape tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
zest and juice of one medium lemon
sea salt (optional)

Zest and juice the lemon and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan that is good for sautéing.  Add the garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until it is fragrant.  Be careful not to burn it.  Burnt garlic tastes terrible.  Add the asparagus and tomatoes and sauté for about 5 minutes.  You want it crisp – but a lot of the timing depends on how thick your asparagus is.  Toss occasionally as you are sautéing. Once it is cooked to your liking, add the zest and lemon juice, and a few grinds of seas salt if you’d like, and toss with the asparagus. Serve warm.  4 servings at about 1 gram of fat/serving

Hint: Selecting and trimming asparagus. Choose thin stalks of asparagus rather than thick ones.  Thick asparagus is woody, and you loose a lot when you trim it.  Also, try to choose a bunch of asparagus that has stalks that are about even in width, so they cook at the same time.  To trim asparagus, grasp a single stalk firmly in both hands and snap it in two pieces.  It will separate into a woody bottom and a nice, tender upper part.  If you have bought slender asparagus, you won’t lose too much of the stalk, nor will you have to peel it.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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