Sides for Spring!
Spring has arrived and none too soon. Easter, Mother’s Day, and graduations are coming fast. Maybe, you won’t be hosting these events, but you might be asked to contribute sides. What will you prepare that’s simple, takes advantage of Spring, and won’t break the bank? How about a light salad with fresh asparagus and chopped red pepper, use endive as a bed for a shrimp salad starter, and a four ingredient salad featuring grapes and Marcona almonds. Let these three simples ideas from Scratch That™ Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings be your “go to” sides for Spring 2011.
Cold Asparagus with Vinaigrette
1 bunch asparagus
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon diced red pepper
1 Tablespoon diced yellow pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
½ Teaspoon kosher salt
¼ Teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 – 4 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
Yield: 4 accompaniment servings
The Day Before: Asparagus preparation
Snip off the woody ends of the asparagus. Wash the asparagus and set aside. Fill a Dutch oven or large skillet approximately half way with water. Add the salt, and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus, cover, and blanch for 3 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the boiling water, and place in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process and to maintain the bright green color. When the asparagus is cool, please on paper towels, and pat dry. Place the asparagus in a covered plastic container, and refrigerate it overnight.
Before serving, place the asparagus on a large platter. Sprinkle the diced peppers down on the center of the asparagus, and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Serves. 2- 4 as a side.
In a small bowl, whisk together the juices, mustard, spices, zest, and salt until the salt is completely dissolved. Slowly add the oil, and whisk together until it begins to emulsify.
Connie’s Notes: It is best to make this asparagus when it is in season, especially in the spring. Green beans could also be substituted for the asparagus. Add this salad to a soup or sandwich, and you have a light supper or lunch.
Save the leftover asparagus ends for a homemade vegetable broth.
Shrimp Salad on Endive Spears
¾ cup cooked and diced baby shrimp*
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 Teaspoon sea salt
¼ Teaspoon white pepper
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
2 Teaspoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon lime juice
1 shallot – minced
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise or sour cream
8 endive spears
Mix all the ingredients together right before serving.
Place a rounded teaspoonful of the shrimp mixture at the end of an endive spear, and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 appetizers servings
Connie’s Notes: For a beautiful presentation, try to find both red and green endive at your grocery store or farmer’s market. To prepare the endive, wash it, and remove any outer leaves that are bruised. Cut off the bitter inch off the bottom of the endive. Carefully separate the spears and lay the spears on paper towels to dry. Place the dried spears in a re-sealable bag and place them in the refrigerator so they remain crisp. This process can be done a day in advance. Coarsely chop any leftover endive and use it in a salad.
*If you are using frozen baby shrimp, drain,and pat dry.
Grape Almond Salad
1 cup seeded green grapes, cut in half
1 cup seeded red grapes, cut in half
1 cup Marcona almonds
1 cup flat-leaf parsley sprigs
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Lightly combine all the ingredients in a pretty bowl and serve at room temperature.
Serves: 4 as a side.
Connie’s Notes: Marcona (mar-co-na) almonds are very flavorful almonds from Spain. They have a richer more intense flavor than regular almonds. Marcona almonds can be found in the gourmet section of your grocery store, or online.
Talk to you at the end of April,
Connie, author of Scratch That™ Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings, www.conniefairbanks.com