Friday, July 2, 2010

Roasted Asparagus Salad

I went to a family event last weekend and my contribution was this roasted asparagus dish.  It was so tasty, I’m making it again for a July 4th get together with neighbors.  This is a perfect party platter because you can cook the components up ahead of time and assemble it later, especially if you’re going to be traveling. 
You want to start with some fresh, hopefully organic, asparagus.  Buy the skinnier ones, they’re usually more tender.

Next, you trim off the coarse bottoms and drizzle a few teaspoons of olive oil over them before you roast them in a 425° oven for 5 minutes.  I know that 5 minutes doesn’t seem like a long enough time but they tend to continue to cook after you take them out of the oven and you don’t want them to shrivel up too much.  If you’re using especially large sized asparagus, you might want to cook them for a minute longer.

You also want to buy some fresh black mission figs.  They’re wonderful.  Make sure they’re soft.  It’s better to buy them on the shriveled side, they’ll be sweeter than if you get them and they’re still very firm.

I put the roasted asparagus on a bed of heirloom tomatoes and topped it with fresh figs and some pinenuts and a little salt.  I drizzled a balsamic vinegar and honey reduction all over the top.  You could also crumble some feta cheese on there,  that would be tasty as well, but I was going for a dairy free version for my family.

Roasted Asparagus Salad
Makes 10 servings - Use organic ingredients whenever possible
1 lb fresh asparagus 
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (lemon olive oil works well for this)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (or sub agave or sugar if you’re vegan)
2 large heirloom tomatoes (or regular ones)
1/4 cup pine nuts
6 fresh black mission figs
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Optional topping: crumbled feta cheese
Preheat your oven to 425°.
Trim the tuff bottoms off of the asparagus.
Put the asparagus in a roasting pan and/or cookie sheets and drizzle with olive oil.
Roll the asparagus around in the oil and straighten them in a single layer so they don’t overlap.
Roast for 5 minutes and remove them from the oven to cool.  
(Refrigerate them if you’re making this ahead of time.)
Put the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small pot over a low heat.  
Stir often until the mixture begins to thicken.  (Don’t walk away or it will caramelize too much and you won’t be able to pour it over the asparagus)
Allow the vinegar mixture to cool to room temperature.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange them around the outside of your platter.
Top them with two rows of asparagus.
Sprinkle the pine nuts over the asparagus
Slice the figs in quarters (from top to bottom) and toss them over the asparagus.
Sprinkle the salt over everything.
Slowing drizzle the balsamic mixture over the entire dish.
Top with feta cheese if you choose to use it.

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