Good Shabbas and Shabbat Shalom! This weekend we’ll be celebrating Shavuot. It begins on Saturday at sundown and ends on Monday evening. We avoid meat on this holiday and so it’s an opportunity to indulge in some favourite dairy dishes like cheese blintzes and cheese cake. There were some wonderful recipes for these traditional favourites in The Shabbat Table May 31 column and they will keep you well-fuelled for all-night Torah study. https://www.cjnews.com/living-jewish/the-shabbat-table-meatless-and-marvellous-for-shavuot
The recipes for this week are seasonal and they can be paired with the main dishes served on this holiday weekend. Despite the unusual cold and wet spring, asparagus season in Ontario is well underway. Savouring fresh asparagus is a delicious rite of spring.
According to Harvest Ontario, asparagus, the first local spring vegetable, should be available for another three weeks, while June marks the beginning of Ontario’s strawberry and cherry season.
We should also see a host of other locally grown produce in farmers markets and grocery stores this month. The list includes lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, radishes, beans, peas, cauliflower and broccoli.
The harvest may be delayed because of the cold weather, but these vegetables should be available all summer.
Expect to see local cherries and strawberries in June and July. Asparagus season will be over by July so now is the time to get your fill of this delicious and healthy vegetable.
Food maven Norene Gilletz has cooked up some terrific asparagus recipes in Meal-Lean-i-Yum and Healthy Helpings, the later version of this book, as well as in The Food Processor Bible, a culinary classic. Her offerings include asparagus seasoned with lemon and thyme, and an Asian-inspired dish, from Meal-Lean-i-Yum and Healthy Helpings. The roasted asparagus and the asparagus rolls recipes can be found in The Food Processor Bible.
NORENE’S “ASPARAGUS TIPS FOR SUCCESS” (Meal-Lean-i-Yum)
* When you buy asparagus, look for straight stalks that are uniform in colour with tight pointed tips. Store asparagus in paper towels. You can also stand them upright in a few inches of water like flowers. Cover the tips in plastic wrap and use within 2 to 3 days.
* There is no difference in taste in spears that are thick or thin, but they should be uniform in size when you’re cooking and serving them.
* Bend the asparagus stalk at the point where it breaks naturally and snap of the end. Save the scraps for soups.
* As an option, you can peel the stalks with a vegetable peeler, but stop about 1 inch before the tips. Soak these peeled spears thoroughly in cold water with a little salt and vinegar added.
* If microwaving asparagus, place thicker stalks at the edge of the dish and thinner ones closer to the centre with the ends in. If the asparagus is cut up, microwave the stems first and stir in the tips a minute after microwaving the stems.
* Cook the asparagus until tender-crisp. It should be bright and vivid green. The colour becomes dull when it is overcooked. If the asparagus is limp, that’s a sign that it is overcooked. Put it under cold water to stop the cooking. Overcooked asparagus can be pureed and used in soup.
SIMPLY STEAMED ASPARAGUS
1 1/2 lbs (750 g) of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch (cm) slices
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp (5 ml) fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp (1 ml) dried thyme
3 Tbsp (45 ml) fresh lemon, lime or orange juice
1 tsp (5 ml) tub margarine (or 2 tsp (10 ml) light margarine)
Soak the asparagus in cold water and drain well.
Steam the spears for 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
There is also a microwave option: Microwave the asparagus on High for 6 to 8 minutes or until the spears are tender crisp. Let them stand covered for 3 minutes.
Season the asparagus with salt, pepper and thyme and then sprinkle them with the juice. Add the margarine and mix well.
At serving time, reheat the asparagus on High in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1 1/2 lb (750 g) asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch (5 cm) slices
2 Tbsp (30 ml) teriyaki sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) minced fresh ginger
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp (3-5 ml) toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp (15 ml) honey
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp (3 ml) Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp (30 ml) toasted sesame seeds
Soak the asparagus in water and drain well.
Place the spears in a 1-quart or 1-litre casserole and drizzle with the teriyaki sauce.
Sprinkle with the ginger and green onions.
Microwave on High for 6 or 7 minutes, until the spears are barely tender. Let them stand covered for 3 minutes.
Stir in the sesame oil, honey, orange juice and mustard. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately or reheat briefly in the microwave before serving.
To Toast Sesame Seeds:
Place the seeds in a small pan and roast them on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent burning.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
1 bunch of asparagus (3/4 lb or 350 g)
4 medium portobello mushrooms about 1/2 to 3/4 lb (230 to 350g)
1/2 cup (125 ml) Balsamic Vinaigrette
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425ºF (210ºC). Spray a baking sheet
Soak the asparagus in cold water; drain well.
Bend the asparagus and snap off the ends at the point where they break off naturally.
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Rinse them briefly and pat dry. If necessary, trim the caps to fit the food processor feed tube
Insert the slicer. Slice mushrooms using medium pressure.
Place the asparagus and mushrooms in a single layer in the prepared baking sheet.
Drizzle the vegetables with the vinaigrette and season them with salt and pepper.
Roast the vegetables 10 to 12 minutes or until they are tender and browned.
NOTE: Shiitake or button mushrooms can be used instead of portobellos.
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh parsley
2/3 (160 ml) cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1/3 cup (80 ml) balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) orange juice
2 to 3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) honey (or to taste)
1/4 tsp (2 ml) each dried basil and dried thyme
Drop the garlic and parsley through the feed tube while the machine is running and process until the garlic and parsley are minced.
Add the remaining ingredients and process for 8 to 10 seconds to blend.
ASPARAGUS CHEESE ROLLS
18 slices of thinly sliced white or whole wheat bread, crusts removed
8 oz chilled, low-fat cheddar cheese (2 cups or 500 ml grated)
1/2 cup (125 ml) soft butter or light margarine, cut in chunks
1 tsp (5 ml) Dijon mustard
1 tsp (5 ml) Worcestershire sauce
18 steamed asparagus spears
NOTE: Prepare the rolls in advance and pop them under the broiler when your company arrives. Any leftover cheese mixture can be used as a spread.
Flatten the bread slices lightly with a rolling pin
Grater Blade: Grate the cheese using medium pressure. Leave the cheese in the processor bowl.
Steel Blade: Insert the blade, pushing it all the way down. Add the butter or margarine, mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Process until the cheese and sauce are mixed, scraping down the bowl as needed.
Spread the sauce on the bread slices.
Place an asparagus spear on each slice of bread, trimming the asparagus to fit. Roll up the bread and cut each roll in half.
Place the rolls seam side down on a cookie sheet. Wrap well and refrigerate or freeze until needed.
Broil the rolls until they become golden. Serve hot.
Makes 3 dozen pieces.