Memorable Memorial Day Weekend Recipes

Photo by Alison Eaves

Have a lovely Memorial Day! My suggestions for wonderful dishes for the holiday, using local, seasonal picked-at-peak-ripeness ingredients… What’s at market now and most delicious? Asparagus, strawberries, onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes… Enjoy!

Starter: Puree of Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

Main Course: Salad of New Potatoes and Asparagus with a Lemony Garlic-Herb Mayonnaise Topped with Poached Salmon

OR

Main Course: Kjerstin’s Curried Chicken Salad with Strawberries, Grapes and Roasted Almonds

Dessert: Strawberry Granita

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Puree of Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

Puree of  Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

This sublime, pale green soup may be served warm or cold.

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:
2 pounds Asparagus, cleaned, tough ends removed, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 Leak, cleaned and sliced, white and light green parts only
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 clove of Garlic, mashed
Pinch of Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
Vegetable Broth (see recipe) or Chicken Broth
2 Medium Potatoes, diced
1 Bay Leaf
A few sprigs of Fresh Thyme and Parsley
1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Garnish: 1 Small Bunch Fresh Tarragon, chopped

Vegetable Broth:
Use the cleaned tough ends and scraps of the asparagus and leek. Add 1 onion, 1 garlic clove (or more), and 2 quarts of water. Other vegetables you happen to have could also be thrown in, such as a carrot and/or a celery stalk. Let simmer about 30 minutes and strain.

Soup Preparation:
Clean the asparagus, break off tough ends. If you wish, peel the stalks for a more tender vegetable. Slice the asparagus stalks into approximately 1.5 inch pieces.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed pan. Add the leak, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, the potatoes, and herbs and simmer about 30 minutes. Add half of the asparagus and simmer another ten minutes. Remove the herbs.

Using an immersible hand blender (ie, Cuisinart’s Smart Stick), puree the soup, add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, steam or broil the remaining asparagus for 5 minutes, until barely tender.  Strain and cover in ice water to stop the cooking process and prevent limp, over-done asparagus.

Serve the soup, garnishing each bowl with the sliced asparagus and a pinch of chopped fresh tarragon.

Puree of Asparagus Soup with Tarragon is adapted from “The Vegetarian Feast” by Martha Rose Shulman, a cookbook I highly recommend.

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Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Asparagus Spears and Cherry Tomatoes

Whole Grain Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Asparagus Spears and Tomatoes

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

1 pound Asparagus, trimmed
1 Tbsp Canola or Olive Oil
1 Quart Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
¼ Cup Basil or Tarragon Pesto
1 Pound Whole Grain Linquine or pasta twists, dry (My favorite brands are  “Bionaturae” or “Barilla”)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

Roast the asparagus and tomatoes:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Clean the asparagus, break off tough ends. If you wish, peel the stalks for a more tender vegetable. Slice the asparagus stalks diagonally into bite-sized or approximately 1.5 inch pieces. In a large bowl or plastic bag, toss the tomatoes and asparagus pieces in 1 Tablespoon of Canola or Olive Oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper until the asparagus is coated lightly with oil. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes in the middle of the 425 degree oven. Do not overcook!

When finished cooking, pour the asparagus and tomatoes into a large bowl containing the pesto and toss.  Add the cooked pasta and mix all ingredients. Serve warm or chilled. About 200 calories per serving (1/6th of recipe).

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Salad of New Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemony Garlic Herb Mayonnaise

Salad of “New” Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemony-Garlic-Herb Mayonnaise


This salad can be served warm, for instance, as a great winter holiday side dish – with or without the potatoes – or enjoyed cold for spring. The mayonnaise dressing brings out the flavor of any vegetable, especially if allowed to soak into still-warm, just cooked haricots verts (the tender French green bean) or asparagus, delicate, small, thin-skinned “new” potatoes, or broccoli.

Serves 6 to 8

Mayonnaise Dressing:

1/4 Cup Mayonnaise, preferably made with Canola or Olive Oil
Grated Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Garlic cloves (or more, to taste), mashed
1 Tbsp (or more, to taste) Tarragon or other fresh herb such as Dill
Salt and Pepper, if desired (none needed)

Vegetables:

1 quart Asparagus, tough end removed, slice diagonally in 1.5 inch pieces (or Haricots Verts)
1 pint small New Potatoes with skin, cleaned but not peeled (optional)
2 Red Bell Peppers, roasted (if desired) and chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Bunch (about 4 – 5) Green Onions, chopped

Prepare the dressing in a bowl large enough to fit the salad ingredients by mixing the mayonnaise, the lemon, garlic and fresh herb of your choice. Place in refrigerator to keep chilled.

Steam or boil the asparagus for about five minutes (in a small amount of water) until they are al dente (firm, but not hard, with resistance to the bite). Drain and immediately place in the bowl of cold mayonnaise. Toss to coat with mayonnaise dressing. Put the bowl back into the refrigerator to halt the cooking process.

Slice the small potatoes in half or quarters, depending on their size. Boil the potatoes for about 5 or 10  minutes, until tender when pierced by a fork. Drain and place in the bowl with the mayonnaise and asparagus. Toss to coat with the mayonnaise dressing. Place in the refrigerator.

Roast the red bell peppers if desired, chop, and add to the mix. Chop the white part of the green onions, cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and place in bowl with the other vegetables; toss.

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Asparagus Already? Katherine’s Favorite Asparagus Recipes

If any food says SPRING loudly and clearly, it’s ASPARAGUS!

Asparagus season is earlier than usual because of the record-setting warm winter weather, and I, for one, am grateful. As someone who almost exclusively buys my produce from the farmers’ markets, I’ve been feeling a bit bored with winter’s kale, potatoes and beets… Kale and potatoes and beets, oh my!

I have several luscious asparagus recipes I’ve been dying to get into. Before I share them with you, let me tell you why asparagus is so good to eat (besides being uniquely delicious).

Asparagus is packed with nutrients. Low in calories, it’s an excellent source of folic acid, thiamin, vitamin C, and B6. Asparagus, like other fruits and vegetables, is sodium- fat- and cholesterol-free. It is an important source of potassium and nutrients for boosting your immune system, reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and preventing heart disease and cancer. Asparagus is especially high in glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer fighters, according to the National Cancer Institute. It’s also high in rutin, which is valuable in strengthening the blood vessels.

When buying asparagus, it should be bright green with tight, firm tips. And you’ll need to get to the farmer’s market early, as it goes fast! I’m not the only one eager for change…

My favorite asparagus recipe is one I developed with my client, Rebecca. We made a mess in her kitchen with several bundles of asparagus in each corner. We roasted it, steamed it, and sauteed it. We tried a variety of dressings and accompaniments.

The result? “Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot, and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette.” How delicious is it? Let me just say my friend Cindy Mize, who I immortalized in my book, Diet Simple, as having just lipstick and fingernail polish in her refrigerator (during her younger days in Washington), says she can’t sleep knowing it is in her refrigerator. In her new life as president of Miami Capital Properties in Key Biscayne, Florida, she has many dinner parties at which my asparagus recipe is featured. After her dinner guests leave, she says she sneaks to the refrigerator at midnight to scarf up the leftover. I can hardly believe the transformation of this southern gal who claimed she would only eat “brown” or “white” food: but I guess that illustrates the power of a great recipe!

A few of Katherine’s favorite asparagus recipes…

Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette

Salad of New Potatoes and Asparagus with Lemony Garlic Herb Mayonnaise

Pasta with Pesto, Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

Asparagus Salad in a Vietnamese-Style Dressing

Puree of Asparagus Soup with Tarragon

Chef Janis McLean’s Asparagus Frittata

Cindy Mize during her non-vegetable-eating days in Washington, D.C.

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“Addictive” Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette


My favorite asparagus recipe is one I developed with my client, Rebecca. We made a mess in her kitchen with several bundles of asparagus in each corner. We roasted it, steamed it, and sauteed it. We tried a variety of dressings and accompaniments. The result? “Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot, and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette.”

Cindy Mize during her (big, gorgeous hair and) non-vegetable-eating days in Washington, D.C.

Chilled Asparagus in a Creamy Tarragon, Shallot, and Roasted Walnut Vinaigrette

How delicious is this recipe? Let me just say my friend Cindy Mize – who recently lost 30 lbs with my DIET SIMPLE batch recipes, and who I immortalized in my book, Diet Simple, as having just lipstick and fingernail polish in her refrigerator (during her younger days in Washington), says she can’t sleep knowing it is in her refrigerator. In her new life as president of Miami Capital Properties in Key Biscayne, Florida, she has many dinner parties at which my asparagus recipe is featured. After her dinner guests leave, she says she sneaks to the refrigerator at midnight to scarf up the leftover. I can hardly believe the transformation of this southern gal who claimed she would only eat “brown” or “white” food: but I guess that illustrates the power of a great recipe!

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
2 pounds Asparagus, cleaned, tough ends removed, cut in bite-sized (1.5 inch) pieces
1 Tablespoon Walnut or Canola Oil
A pinch of Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Ounces (1/2 Cup) Roasted, Unsalted Walnuts, Chopped
1 Small (4 ounce) Red Bell Pepper, Chopped Finely (roasted, if you wish)
1 Bunch (1/4 Cup) Green Onions, Chopped Finely
Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons Tarragon Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Walnut Oil
2 Tablespoons Low Fat Greek Yogurt
1 Shallot, Chopped Finely
2 Tablespoons Fresh Tarragon, Chopped Finely
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, Chopped Finely
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, Chopped Finely
¼ Teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste

Preparation:
First, If you are using raw walnuts, toast the walnuts by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes until light golden brown. Let them cool. Chop.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing all vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit the asparagus, red pepper and green onions. Place the bowl with the vinaigrette in the refrigerator so that it is cool when the asparagus comes out of the oven.

Clean the asparagus, break off tough ends. If you wish, peel the stalks for a more tender vegetable. Slice the asparagus stalks diagonally into bite-sized or approximately 1.5 inch pieces. In a large bowl or plastic bag, toss the Asparagus pieces in 1 Tablespoon of Walnut or Canola Oil and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper until the asparagus is coated lightly with oil. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 5 minutes in the middle of the 425 degree oven. Pour the hot asparagus into the cool vinaigrette to help discontinue the cooking of the asparagus, so that it remains al dente. Do not overcook! Add the finely chopped red bell pepper, green onions, and nuts. Toss and serve immediately while still warm or chilled.

About 1,000 calories for the entire dish.

Asparagus is packed with nutrients. Low in calories, it’s an excellent source of folic acid and Vitamin C, Thiamin, and Vitamin B6. Asparagus, like other fruits and vegetables, is sodium-free, and contains no fat or cholesterol, either. It is an important source of potassium and many nutrients, important for boosting your immune system and preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure and even preventing cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, Asparagus is the highest tested food containing Glutathione, one of the body’s most potent cancer fighters. Additionally, Asparagus is high in Rutin, which is valuable in strengthening the blood vessels.

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