Asparagus, Cashews, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette

There’s something about the springtime and asparagus starting to grow that brings a smile to my face.  So, as I was reading through the Vegetable Butcher cookbook and came across this recipe for Asparagus, Hazelnuts, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette, I knew I wanted to put it together.  Even better: the recipe suggested I could substitute cashews for hazelnuts, which I had found an abundance of while cleaning out the pantry.  It was time to put this dish together.  When I brought leftovers for lunch, people commented how healthy the recipe looked, and it really was a full meal in one dish, but would also be a nice side dish.

Asparagus, Cashews, and Mint.jpg

Asparagus, Cashews, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette

zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c olive oil
1 lb asparagus
3 c cooked quinoa
1/3 c toasted cashews or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 c thinly sliced scallions
1/4 c packed fresh mint leaves, finely sliced

For vinaigrette, whisk together zest and juice of 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tsp maple syrup, ¼ tsp fine sea salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Slowly add ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, whisking constantly.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; place a large bowl of ice water next to stovetop. Cook 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed, tips intact and spears cut into 1-inch pieces, 2–4 minutes or just until crisp-tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water. When cool to the touch, drain well and spread on a towel to absorb any remaining water.

Combine asparagus and 3 cups cooked white quinoa in a large bowl. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat all of the ingredients, about ¼ cup. Add ⅓ cup toasted cashews or hazelnuts, coarsely chopped, ⅓ cup thinly sliced scallions, ¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, finely sliced, and ¼ tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper; toss again. Add more salt, pepper and/or vinaigrette to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Classic Guacamole

In addition to the hummus I highlighted in my last post, I decided to throw together some guacamole and turned to the Vegetable Butcher to identify the recipe I wanted to try making.

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Classic Guacamole

4 avocados
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1-2 jalapenos, seeded, ribs removed, finely diced
3 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4-1/3 c coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, gently mash avocados, halved and pitted, leaving some pieces in large chunks.  Add the garlic cloves, red onion, jalapenos, lime juice, and salt.  Gently mix in tomatoes and cilantro.  Add more jalapeno, lime juice or salt to taste.

The guacamole will keep for 1 day, refrigerated and covered tightly with plastic wrap touching the surface.

As a variation, make Avocado and Mango Guacamole: Replace 2 of the tomatoes with 1 medium mango, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch dice.

Cauliflower and Caramelized Fennel Soup

Tis the season for soups.  When I had some members of my family driving through a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to try some new recipes for them.  The grocery store had cauliflower on sale and I had tagged this recipe from The Vegetable Butcher and I knew I wanted to put it together.  It seemed like something I could do after work was over without too much issue and it would be a fun way to get some different vegetables into our meal.

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