Serve asparagus, greens fresh from the garden

Nothing tastes quite as good as fresh picked asparagus. A stem or two never reaches the house because I like to munch on them right in the yard.

I have added chopped fresh asparagus to all of my salads lately, whether it is a caesar salad, a fresh mixed greens salad or egg salad sandwiches.

I vary the size of the pieces, depending on the salad. I have also discovered that asparagus holds up well in marinated salads.

Versatile spinach mixes well with the greens in fresh salads and with asparagus in stir fries and omelets, while fresh perennial herbs such as chives and mint, which pop up early in the garden, can be used to enhance many dishes.

Fresh-from-the garden flavours wouldn’t be complete without rhubarb and early bearing strawberries.

If your garden isn’t providing fresh produce yet, visit a local farmers market or a greenhouse that sells fresh-picked produce.

Rhubarb strawberry salsa

This is delicious with grilled meat or scooped with a tortilla chip as a snack.

  • 3/4 c. rhubarb, diced (about 1/4 lb./125 g) 175 mL
  • 1/4 c. strawberries, diced (about 2 large) 60 mL
  • 10–12 chive stems, chopped
  • 2 tsp. jalapeno pepper, minced or to taste 10 mL
  • 1/4 c. sweet red pepper, chopped 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar 5 mL

Combine and toss to mix, season to taste with salt and pepper and add more sugar if needed. Adapted from allrecipes.com.

Marinated salad with zesty Italian fresh herb vinaigrette

  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar 60 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground pepper .5 mL
  • 3/4 c. oil 175 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard 15 mL
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 c. loosely packed variety of fresh basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme leaves, no stems, then finely chopped
  • 8 c. fresh vegetables 2 L

The vinaigrette is a basic oil and vinegar dressing, usually made with three parts oil to one part vinegar. It can be flavoured with salt, pepper and a combination of herbs, spices, onions and mustard.
The vinegar, salt, pepper and spices are mixed well using a wire whisk. Add the oil in a slow steady stream while continuing to whisk the vinegar mixture. This will cause the oil and vinegar to combine or emulsify. Adding Dijon mustard will give a creamy texture and aid in keeping the oil and vinegar emulsified. The garlic and fresh herbs are whisked into the oil and vinegar emulsion. Use immediately or refrigerate and use within 24 hours.
For a marinated salad, pour the fresh vinaigrette over a variety of fresh vegetables that are cut into bite-sized pieces. Use a large plastic container that can be sealed. Marinate for six to 12 hours and shake the container several times to distribute the marinade.

Fresh greens with strawberry orange dressing

This is a low calorie, low fat dressing that is wonderful on fresh greens or a spinach salad.

  • 1/4 c. orange juice, fresh squeezed 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice, fresh squeezed 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. orange zest 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest 1 mL
  • 1 c. strawberries, sliced 250 mL

Combine the orange and lemon juice, mint, sugar and zest. Pour over sliced strawberries, cover and refrigerate. Pour strawberry mixture over fresh mixed salad greens just before serving and toss gently.
Zest is the finely grated coloured skin of an orange or lemon.
Adapted from Eat Well Live Well, The Canadian Dietetic Association’s Guide to Healthy Eating

Spinach and asparagus salad with poppy seed dressing

Dressing

  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise 125 mL
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar 75 mL
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar 75 mL
  • 1 tsp. poppy seeds 5 mL
  • 8 c. baby spinach 2 L
  • 1 c. asparagus, cut diagonally into bit size pieces 250 mL
  • 1 c. mushrooms, sliced 250 mL
  • 6 slices of turkey bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese 125 mL

Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and poppy seeds.
Arrange the spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, bacon and cheese on individual plates and drizzle with the poppy seed dressing just before serving. This recipe serves four meal size salads or eight side salads.

Asparagus egg salad rollup

  • 3 hard cooked eggs peeled
  • 1 tsp. mayonnaise 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. fresh chives 5 mLchopped
  • 2 large whole wheat tortillas
  • 2-4 asparagus spears
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mash the eggs with a fork and add the mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Divide and spread on the tortillas. Place the asparagus at one side and roll up, cut diagonally and serve with a salad. This recipe serves two.

Spinach and asparagus quesadillas

This recipe serves two.

  • 2-4 asparagus spears, chopped
  • 1 c. loosely packed spinach, chopped 250 mL
  • 4 small mushrooms, chopped
  • 5–10 chive stems, chopped
  • 1/4 red sweet pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. oil 1 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 large whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 c. Monterey jack 500 mLcheese, grated

Preheat oven to lowest setting.
Prepare the vegetables and mix together in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat until hot.
Add one tortilla and scatter over it a quarter of the cheese and half of the vegetable mixture. Season with salt and pepper and add a quarter of the cheese. It is essential to work quickly so the cheese will melt.
Fold it in half, pressing with a spatula to flatten, when the tortilla smells toasty and the bottom is browned in spots. This takes one to two minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet and place in preheated oven to keep warm. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve with a scoop of sour cream and a salad.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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