A collection of seasonal recipes and stories

asparagus & white bean bread salad

I know I said I had everything under control in terms of cooking real food, and I did.  Briefly.  But then I decided to renovate our little log cabin — a rather ambitious project that involves messy, time-consuming things like drywall and terribly inconvenient things like gutting the entire kitchen (the entirety of which is a mere 62 square feet, but still).  And a couple of months ago, Chris popped into our not-yet-gutted kitchen to announce that he wanted to be with me all the time forever, so I’m also planning a wedding.  It’s a very small, very casual wedding (as far as weddings go), but still.  Then there is also the small matter of my actual job and the fact that I’m pretty obsessive about pretty much everything.

These are not the sort of conditions that foster creativity in the kitchen.  These are more the sort of conditions that foster major meltdowns in the grocery.  I know this because I recently had such a meltdown.  It involved a box of Rice-a-Roni, which is pretty much rock bottom for me.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy Rice-a-Roni.  Actually, yes, I am saying that.  You shouldn’t buy Rice-a-Roni.  I shouldn’t buy Rice-a-Roni.  Nobody should buy Rice-a-Roni.  Real food is important, and it is really really easy to make rice.  Sometimes we buy Rice-a-Roni anyway.  I get that.

But I firmly believe that is it just as easy to make good food as it is to make bad food, and it generally takes about the same amount of time.  Lately I’ve been making asparagus.  I bring a basketful home from the Farmers Market every week and delight in figuring out how to turn those pretty green stalks into dinner.  Asparagus pesto is an old standby, but my favorite of this season is an asparagus bread salad.  It’s bright and fresh and hearty all at the same time, with dainty slivers of asparagus and tender white beans nestled in among chunks of crusty grilled bread.  The bread soaks up a bit of the lemony dressing without becoming soggy and the whole dish is accented with bits of parmesan.  All of this comes together beautifully and quite deliciously, in a way that says, “Oh yes.  Food.  How lovely to see you again.”

*****

Despite the home renovation and the wedding plans, I intend to do more with this blog than pop in every four months to announce that I got too busy to cook anything worth mentioning but I promise to be good from now on.  A girl can only do that so many times (two?) before she starts to look silly.  Plus, maintaining a blog about seasonal cooking helps discourage me from buying packaged crap.

*****

Asparagus & White Bean Bread Salad
adapted from Gourmet
(serves 2)

I tossed in a handful of salad greens, but I think the salad is actually better without them.  The greens appear in the photo but not in the recipe.  Feel free to add them if you like.

1 lb asparagus
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ c. + 2 T. olive oil
1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed well
½ t. finely grated fresh lemon zest
2 T. fresh lemon juice
½ t. salt
¼ t. black pepper
4 slices thick, crusty bread
4 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano
¼ c. chopped parsley

1) Trim woody ends from asparagus and slice on the diagonal into ¼” thick slices.

2) In a large sauté pan, heat ¼ c. olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the asparagus and sauté for about 1 minute.  Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds.  Stir in the beans, lemon juice and zest, then season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

3) Brush both sides of the bread with remaining 2 T. olive oil and grill (or broil, if you’d prefer) over high heat until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes.   Cool slightly and tear the bread into bite-sized chunks.

4) Spoon asparagus & bean mixture into large bowl, add torn bread, and toss to combine.  Shave cheese over salad, sprinkle with parsley, and toss again before serving warm.

10 responses

  1. Clare

    This looks great. I like asparagus but I’m tired of always cooking it the same two ways (sauteed or steamed in pasta or risotto). This would be a good minimal-planning meal, since I always have canned white beans and crusty bread around. I’ll try it after I hit the wednesday market in Elmhurst.

    June 13, 2010 at 7:42 pm

  2. jeff

    welcome back! look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeves. unfortunate that your ‘seasonal’ vegetables lag mine by several weeks…

    glad to hear you are staying busy!

    jeff

    June 17, 2010 at 8:34 am

  3. Happy news about the wedding – and about this salad! I will try it soon, before the asparagus are all gone from the markets.

    June 21, 2010 at 9:03 am

  4. yay! printing and prepping for this salad! time to start cooking again. and salad assembly is cooking to me.

    June 22, 2010 at 10:45 am

  5. Clare

    I made this salad a few days ago, and it was a big hit. Even the 2-year-old had seconds. I think it will become part of my regular summer meal rotation.

    June 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  6. Jenn

    Congratulations on your engagement! Very exciting news. Your asparagus looks gorgeous and the fruits of your labour totally paid off. It’s breakfast time where I’m from and this looks like it would be a great breakfast.
    Sometimes,… life is too busy to blog. Plus it’s summertime. Why spend it in front of a computer?

    June 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

  7. This recipie looks amazing! Secondly, “When Harry me Salad” is a really hillarious blog title. haha!

    September 14, 2010 at 5:21 pm

  8. Oops! “When Harry Met Salad”

    Stupid typo wrecking my comment!

    September 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm

  9. Hi

    I love your work and would very much like to use some of it on my website.

    December 10, 2010 at 10:38 am

  10. Molly

    your blog is so good. im sad you dont do it anymore. <3 M

    January 15, 2011 at 3:08 am

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