Tender asparagus a spring treat for the taste buds

Potluck ideas


May is such a pleasure. We experience the warmer weather, smell the freshly turned soil and budding plants and enjoy snapping off fresh asparagus.

Asparagus is packed with nutrients such as vitamins A,C, E and K, chromium, antioxidants and fibre.

Roasting asparagus is easy and helps reduce the chance of overcooking. To start, prepare the asparagus by rinsing the spears and removing the tough ends by bending until they snap.

Heat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Toss the asparagus in either olive oil or butter, season with salt and pepper and lay out in a single layer on a baking dish or pan.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the spear. Sprinkle with lemon juice if desired.

This can also be prepared on a grill in a baking dish.

Source: www.allrecipes.com and www.eatingwell.com.

It is also the season for school celebrations, reunions, weddings, showers, sports gatherings, barbecues and potluck dinners.

A potluck is a time to get together with others and share favourite dishes. The contributions should be tested recipes that are easy to make, transport well and tolerate being made ahead of time.

Here are some menu choices.

Great Canadian Potato Salad

This is a traditional salad that is often served with grilled or roasted chicken or beef.

  • 3/4 c. Miracle Whip 175 mL
  • 1 tsp. mustard 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed 2 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper 0.5 mL
  • 6 cooked red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1/2 c. sweet pickles, chopped fine 125 mL
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 radishes halved and thinly sliced, optional
  • fresh dill greens, chopped, optional
  • paprika, optional

In a large mixing bowl, combine the Miracle Whip, mustard, celery seed and pepper, then add potatoes, onion, celery, pickles, eggs, radishes and mix well. Chill for several hours or overnight.
>Before serving, stir in fresh dill and top with paprika if desired. Serves six.
Substitute a hot or Dijon mustard to enhance the flavour of the salad.

Marinated Greek Vegetable Salad

The fresh vegetables give a crisp texture to the menu.

  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes 500 mL
  • 3 cucumbers, peeled and chopped in bite-sized pieces
  • 1 c. chopped peppers 250 mL
  • 1 c. thinly sliced red onion 250 mL
  • 1 c. feta cheese 250 mL
  • 1 c. Greek salad dressing 250 mL

Cut the vegetables and place in a large sealable bowl. Blend well and pour dressing over top of the vegetables. Cover and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight. Stir well before serving. Serves about eight. – Source: adapted from www.kraftcanada.com.

Grilled Chicken

  • 1 c. Greek salad dressing 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt 60 mL
  • 8 boneless, skinless
 chicken breasts
  • season with salt, pepper, and oregano

Combine the dressing and mayonnaise in a bowl. Add chicken and stir. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes to marinate.
Heat the grill to a medium heat. Separate the chicken from the marinade, then discard the marinade. Season, then grill 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning when necessary.
You can also roast the chicken in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 F (200 C) for 30 minutes or until done. Serve the pieces whole or sliced.
I often use a commercial salad dressing, but when time permits, it’s fun to try homemade versions. Here is a Greek mix for topping vegetables or for marinating meat.

Greek marinade

  • 1 c. olive oil (can reduce to 3/4 cup) 250 mL
  • 
 1 extra large lemon
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano 10 mL
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 5 mL
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar 30 mL
  • 
 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. sugar 5 mL
  • 
 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 2 mL

Process or whisk the olive oil with lemon juice, oregano, garlic, basil, vinegar, salt and sugar until smooth. Add more oregano and lemon juice if desired. Season with pepper, mix and place in the refrigerator to chill and allow flavours to blend for at least two hours before using. – Source: www.food.com.

Berry Fruit pizza

Fresh fruit desserts make such a great finish to a meal. Be creative and use what is in season.

Crust:

  • 1/2 c. butter 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. icing sugar 60 mL
  • 
 1 c. flour 250 mL


Filling:

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese 250 g
  • 
 1/3 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. whipped cream 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL

Topping:

  • 4 c. sliced berries or fruit of your choice 1 L mL

Glaze:

  • 
2 tbsp. cornstarch 30 mL
  • 1 c. orange or pineapple juice 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice 5 mL

Mix the butter, icing sugar and flour together and press onto an ungreased pizza pan. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for eight minutes. Let cool.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff. Then beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Gently fold prepared whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until well combined. Spread carefully over the crust and smooth the top.
Refrigerate for three hours or until firm. Spread the prepared sliced fruit on the filling.
In small pan, combine the cornstarch, juice and sugar, heat on medium until thickened and brush over fruit. Chill.
You can also use this recipe to make small tart shells.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: [email protected].