Asparagus Salad

Admittedly, asparagus isn't a favorite. However, thinly shaved and tossed with a honey vinegar dressing, I think asparagus and I could be friends.  This pencil-like vegetable is best in the spring and sourced from your farmer. The mizuna is a hearty green that can be eaten raw or cooked. It just adds some extra bulk to the asparagus.  Pick your favorite fresh herb, chop and sprinkle along with some cheese.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Serves: 2
Adapted from Food52

1/2 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup loosely packed mizuna or arugula
1/2 teaspoon chopped lemon verbena or mint
1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, thinly grated

Use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave the asparagus lengthwise to create strips.

Whisk together vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Toss with the lettuce and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grate the cheese on top. Sprinkle the lemon verbena or mint as the final touch on the salad.

Beef Tenderloin + Rice Salad + Yogurt Dressing

This recipe is a hodge-podge of several recipes cobbled together.  My favorite part of this salad is the cooking method for the rice.  Thanks to Sara Moulton's appearance on food52, I discovered that it can be looked like pasta!  Just boil some water, add salt, add rice, stir, and cook for 17 minutes (that is the only precise part).  No more ratios, standing over the pot watching the rice cook, or heating up the oven (although cooking rice in the oven is my second favorite method).  The yogurt sauce was inspired by a vegetarian dish called mujaddara that combines lentils with onions and rice.  The spiced yogurt provides a cool and tangy flavor to the rice, onions, and beef.

Beef Tenderloin + Rice Salad + Yogurt Dressing
yield: 1 - 2 people

for the salad:
1/2 cup jasmine rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
thinly sliced radishes (as many as you want)
8 ounces beef tenderloin (or a similar cut)
salt and pepper, to taste

for the dressing:
1/4-1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped mint
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
lemon juice, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste

For the rice, bring a medium size pot of water to a boil. Add several large pinches of Kosher salt and add the rice.  Stir and cook for 17 minutes exactly.  Drain the rice and set aside in a mixing bowl to cool. 

While the rice is cooking, add the olive oil to a small saute pan set to medium heat.  Add the thinly sliced onions and slowly caramelize until soft and light brown.  This step could take about 20-30 minutes.  Add a tablespoon or two of water if the onions start to brown too quickly; the water will slow down the cooking process slightly. 

Add the onions to the bowl of cooled rice; its fine to let them stay at room temperature.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.

For the steak, season with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat until very hot. Cook the steak, turning once, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak to a plate or cutting board and set it aside for 5 minutes.

To serve, scoop some of the rice mixture into bowls. Thinly slice the meat and arrange some slices on top of each serving, add the sliced radishes, and spoon some of the yogurt sauce over the salad.

Radish & Pecan Grain Salad

Salads like this one remind me of warm weather, picnics, and farmers markets.  While not exactly spring in New England, this plate of crunchy radishes, chewy grains and lentils, and tart dried fruits might just transport you.   

Radish and Pecan Grain Salad
Adapted from Food52
Yield six to eight

2 cups mixed grains/beans/rice (used barley, millet, and French green lentils, but farro, wild rice, and quinoa can also work)
1 cup baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup parsley leaves, minced
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/4 pound pecans, slightly chopped
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 cup mixed radishes (used watermelon and French breakfast) cut into thin slices, preferably using a mandoline (watch your fingers!)
1/4 cup shallot, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries/raisins/cherries

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the grains/beans and cook until just tender, about 25 minutes. The barley went in first, followed by the lentils.  The millet was cooked separately due to it's shorter cooking time.

Drain the grains/beans into a colander, then set aside until warm to the touch.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Season with salt to taste.