Salads

Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad

Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food
Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food

Tomorrow marks our eighth wedding anniversary. How has it been eight years already? It feels like it was only yesterday that we were surrounded by loved ones; dancing, drinking, eating lobster. But when I think about it, so much has happened over the years. We bought not just one, but two houses. I created this blog and, with it, developed a passion for photography (though when I started I never dreamed it'd turn into a career). We became uncles to four kiddos. Two of my grandparents passed away. Friends have moved away. And a number of those close to us have become parents (with quite a few additions arriving this year). I think about the places we've traveled, the restaurants we've dined at, and all the other experiences and I know that we're pretty darn lucky.

While I'm always happy to share what's going on in my life, I have refrained from writing much about our marriage. Why? Because I'd rather keep those moments between the two of us (and I'm pretty sure Eric agrees). But I will say that there is so much that I'm continuing to learn from our marriage. Communication is key. I know everyone says this, but it's very, very true. A relationship will never work if you're afraid to express yourself. We've gotten through some major stuff just because one of us was able to say, "Let's talk about this." Oh, and saying "I love you" and kissing and hugging goodbye before you go to work. That can make you forget all about that fight you had earlier. 

Anyway, now that I've gotten personal, let's talk about this bowl of summer deliciousness. I was so happy to see asparagus return that I immediately picked up a couple bunches. I'd been looking to do something with the chive blossom vinegar I had sitting on the counter (thanks to my friends/neighbors who shared their gorgeous chive blossoms with me). By making the vinegar, not only do you get a zingy, slightly oniony addition to salad dressing, but you also have a beautiful garnish to top your dish. I've put the flowers on pasta and fish, too, and they provide a delightful burst of flavor.

Asparagus, Tomato and Pickled Chive Blossom Salad - A Thought For Food

ASPARAGUS, TOMATO, AND PICKLED CHIVE BLOSSOM SALAD

SERVINGS
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
For the salad
2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
Pickled chive blossoms (recipe below)
2 tablespoons, chive blossom vinegar (recipe below)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt
Black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add asparagus and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer asparagus to ice water to shock them and stop them from cooking. 

2. Put asparagus in a large serving bowl, along with the tomato.

3. In a separate bowl, make the dressing by whisking together chive blossom vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.  Pour the dressing over the asparagus and tomatoes and toss to combine.

4. Sprinkle pickled chive blossom flowers and crumbled goat cheese on top of the salad. 

CHIVE BLOSSOM VINEGAR + PICKLED CHIVE BLOSSOMS

SPECIAL TOOLS
Jar with lid

INGREDIENTS
Chive blossoms
White wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS
1. Add the chive blossoms to a jar fitted with a lid. Fill jar with white wine vinegar.

2. Cover jar and let sit in a dark, cool place, for 2 weeks. The vinegar will turn purple. 

Snap Pea and Feta Salad

You know those recipes that you become obsessed with and can't stop making? The ones you learn and then wonder where the heck they've been your whole life? That's how I feel about this snap pea salad from my friend/chef Brendan Pelley of Boston's Doretta Taverna. Doretta is a Greek restaurant and one that I've become quite a fan of over the last few months. Brendan's food is in line with how I like to eat: a vegetarian and seafood heavy menu featuring seasonal ingredients. His take on Greek food isn't necessarily traditional, but his recipes embody the overall sentiment of that cuisine, which comes through in recipes like this snap pea and feta salad. Many of the dishes are laden with olive oil and cheeses (all Greek, of course) and lemon. I had the pleasure of attending a demo he hosted last week and when we were presented with this dish, I turned to Eric and said "I'm going to prepare this all summer long." He didn't protest. It's a recipe that can be thrown together as a light lunch, or paired with a protein to serve for dinner. Whatever it is, I'd suggest a bright Greek white wine to sip on while you're dining. 

SNAP PEA + FETA SALAD

SOURCE
Mildly adapted from the recipe by Brendan Pelley of Doretta Taverna in Boston

SERVINGS
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 pound snap peas
5 sprigs mint
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons Greek olive oil
6 radish, thinly sliced using a mandoline or sharp knife
8 oz crumbled Greek feta
1/8 cup chopped hazelnuts

DIRECTIONS
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Add snap peas and cook for 45 seconds to blanch them. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.Using a slotted spoon (or strain them in a colander), transfer the snap peas to ice water.

3. Strain and slice the snap peas on bias. Transfer to a large serving bowl.

4. Transfer most of the radish to the bowl with snap peas, reserving some for garnish.

5. Tear the mint leaves by hand over the salad. Add 3/4 of the crumbled feta and toss all the ingredients in the bowl.

6. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss until coated. Check seasoning and add more salt, to taste.

7. Garnish with remaining feta, radish slices, mint, and chopped hazelnuts. 

Kale, Green Bean, and Lentil Salad with Crispy Tofu

Am I the only one who isn't over kale? I never became obsessed with it the way others did. Maybe that's why I still dig it. As a salad base, it holds up under bold dressings, never getting limp or soggy (Eric calls this "Dead Salad," which is something he actually enjoys eating. Don't ask me why. It's one of his quirks that I've grown to tolerate). Initially, this was going to be a green bean dish, but when I was at the store, things just ended up in my basket. The kale, some lentils, a container of tofu. And I thought, "Hey, these would all go nicely together!" Funny how that happens.

As is the case with all successful dishes, this bowl didn't last long.  (The photo down there of the half-eaten salad wasn't just me styling the plate... that's how it really looked). There was just enough left over to throw a container in the fridge. When I went back and hour later to grab another forkful, I found that it'd gotten even better, the kale tenderized and the flavors dispersed. So, if you can be patient, it's worth the wait. 

Kale, green bean, and lentil salad with crispy tofu


SERVINGS
4-6 as a side

INGREDIENTS
Tuscan kale, rinsed and stems removed
3/4 cup cooked lentils
1, 14 oz block extra firm tofu
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into thirds
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
Chinese five spice blend
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt

DIRECTIONS
Line a large plate with a couple pieces of paper towel. Place the block of tofu on the paper towel and weigh it down with something (a heavy can will do), to release as much liquid as possible. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a serving bowl. In a wok or large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Season with 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice blend and 1 teaspoon salt. Transfer to bowl with the kale.

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes and season with a sprinkle of salt and a dusting of Chinese five spice blend. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same wok and set over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they brown even. Transfer the tofu to the bowl with the kale and green beans. 

Add the lentils on top of the other ingredients.

Make the dressing by whisking together sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour the dressing on on top and, using tongs, toss to combine. 

You can serve immediately, but it gets better if it sits for 30 minutes (or a few hours).