The Mighty Asparagus!

Even though the weather here hasn’t been so great I know it’s really spring because asparagus is everywhere, I can’t get enough of the stuff and I’m always looking for new ways to make it, so today I’m giving you two recipes that I’ve recently been addicted to. The one above is the perfect appetizer or side dish, I actually brought this to our Easter brunch. Think prosciutto smeared with goat cheese then place a basil leaf, asparagus, roasted red pepper, shredded carrots and a quick drizzle of balsamic glaze, now roll it up! Oh my, the flavors are amazing, it’s sort of like an Italian Style Sushi!
Inspired by Food Jimoto

You can roast or grill your asparagus, I roasted mine, tossed it in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400F until al dente.

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need, some of which can be used for the next recipe as well. Prosciutto, goat cheese, shredded carrots, fresh basil, roasted red pepper strips,(not seen here, they were roasting in the oven when I took the photo) and balsamic glaze, the glaze is a key ingredient, it’s thick and so flavorful and it stays inside the roll very nicely. You can make your own glaze by reducing down some balsamic vinegar or you can buy some, I got mine at Whole Foods, you can drink the stuff it’s so good! (not really, but I love it!) I always keep a bottle in my fridge, I use it all the time, just a little goes a very long way.

I tried cutting the prosciutto lengthwise at first but I didn’t like the way it held the asparagus in, it wasn’t tight enough within the roll so I cut it in half as you see above and that worked out perfect. If you don’t like goat cheese, maybe some mascarpone? or even cream cheese. You can use 1 or 2 asparagus depending on their size and your preference.
I used one large red pepper cut into small strips and roasted them, That one pepper was enough for a huge pan that I made.

A quick drizzle of olive oil on the tips and they were all ready to go, place them on a beautiful platter and people will be drawn to them, I promise.

Put your balsamic glaze in a squeezy bottle and you can get all fancy with it, swirrels, drops, zig zags, you’ll look like a professional!

Now on to recipe number two, this is so good you’ll want to make this salad over and over again! Take some of that prosciutto you have and crisp it up in your oven, these are going to be prosciutto chips that will garnish and be added to the salad for crunchy and oh so flavorful goodness! Place 4 – 6 slices on a piece of parchment keeping them flat by weighing them down with another baking sheet on top, Cook until crisp at 400F for around 10 -15 minutes, keep checking it.

This Asparagus Salad was inspired by a chef at a farmers market, the components are:

** 1 Pound of grilled or roasted asparagus halved lengthwise

** A spicy green like arugula or frisee ( I couldn’t find either that day, so I used a mix that had both)

** 2 radish that are thinly sliced

** 4 oz. of Chevre goats cheese

** 3 Tablespoons of toasted and chopped hazelnuts

** Salt and pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette:

** 2 Tbl fresh lemon juice

** 6 Tbl good olive oil

** Salt and pepper

** Prosciutto chips
In a bowl add your Chevre cheese, 1 Tbl of the vinaigrette and toss gently all your asparagus until well coated. Add your greens and hazelnuts, radishes and more vinaigrette to taste, toss it all gently until coated. Garnish with the prosciutto chips on top. This should serve 4 or 2 very happy people!

Enjoy and Buon Appetito!


Cheese and Herb Polenta Croutons

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I saw them tossed in a salad that my SIL ordered at a restaurant we were at. I love polenta, and what better way to add something special to your favorite salad or soup.

I used the instant polenta that only takes 15 minutes to whip up. I added freshly chopped rosemary and thyme, and grated Parmesan cheese. Go easy on the herbs, you just need a little they easily could overpower the croutons, especially rosemary!

Pour your cooked polenta on to a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spread fast and evenly with a spatula. Cool the whole pan in the frig for 1/2 hour. When cooled cut the polenta into squares or triangles.

Drizzle lightly both sides with olive oil and bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 45 min’s. Turn them over to make sure they get crispy on the other side. Cool on a rack when done.

Best if used the same day, but I had alot extra so I stored mine in an airtight container in the frig and the next day I reheated them to crisp them up a bit.
I tossed mine with a salad mix of romaine, arugula, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, red onion, green and black olives, and slices of some leftover Fontinella cheese I had. Olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.

I have to say the polenta croutons made the salad! I will definitely make these again!My talented friend Nina of My Easy Cooking gave me this award, you’re suppose to list 10 honest things about yourself and pass it on. I’m so very bad with awards and things but I thought this would be fun.
I’m a night owl, feel free to call or email me after midnight, I’ll still be up.
I love spicy food, pretty much all ethnic varieties.
I love to listen to Andrea Bocelli while I’m cooking.
I like my toast very well done, bordering burnt.
I make a pot of coffee everynight after dinner, without fail.
Ok, this is really weird, but I have to drink my coffee out of a white or cream colored cup.If you open up my cabinet all you will see is white cups. I know, my family thinks I’m crazy! of course when I’m out I make a concession. 😉
Along with all and any cooking shows, I’m also a sucker for reality TV, thanks to my daughter who years ago got me hooked on “The Real World.”
When I watch TV I like to snack on pumpkin seeds, you know the thick shell kind, I always buy a bag when I go to my Italian market.
I love the rocky coastline of the pacific northwest, and of course the awesome ocean.
I want to retire in Italy in a Tuscan villa. ( I can dream can’t I?)
Married to the same guy since we were 19, and we’re both full blooded Italian.
I’m passing this on to any of you who want to do this, especially my regular readers, just let me know so I can come and check it out.
Buon Appetito!!