Posts Tagged ‘asparagus’

Morels with Asparagus © Dina Avila (1 of 2)

Morels with Asparagus © Dina Avila (2 of 2)

All photos © Dina Avila

Happy Sunday, all! A wee bit busy today, so photos for now, and recipe to follow tomorrow.



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Spring Herb Salad with Fava Beans

Borage Flowers

Asparagus and Fava Beans

Those of you who know me know that I have a weakness for fava beans. So much so that I recently told a local chef that “fava beans make me weak in the knees”. Not sure how he took that comment (I think we’re still friends), but it’s the truth. My adoration of fava beans began in my childhood, thanks to my dad, and has only gotten stronger and more pronounced as I’ve gotten older. Some people go crazy for ice cream, I go crazy for fava beans.

When I wandered into Pastaworks yesterday afternoon, I had barely an inkling of what I wanted to make for you. I had spring and fresh herbs on my mind and thought it would stop there. What I walked out with, was an armful of young asparagus, arugula, fava beans, sorrel (tastes like a young lemony lettuce) and fresh mint. Oh, and let’s not forget the borage flowers! How could I possibly walk away from borage flowers? I’ve only ever seen them growing wild during wildflower season in Texas and I always thought about  harvesting them for their natural and medicinal oils, but never did. It’s moments like those that I thank goodness my path brought to the Pacific Northwest where we have farmers like Viridian Farms growing and harvesting such an abundance of wonderful and unique produce. I feel spoiled living here, and I’m OK with that.


Spring Herb Salad with Fava Beans, Young Asparagus and Fresh Mint

This dish hardly needs a recipe. Find whatever fresh, local
herbs turn you on and toss! I listed the borage flowers as optional,
but they are definitely worth hunting down. Their taste is fresh with a hint of earthiness from their natural oils. 


One bunch baby arugula, stems removed if tough
One bunch fresh sorrel, torn into bite sized pieces
A handful of young asparagus
A pound or so young fava beans, hulled
Fresh mint
Borage flowers, optional
Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt
Fennel Pollen, optional


Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside.

Break the asparagus in half and place in boiling water for about three minutes.

Using tongs, remove asparagus from water and place in ice water bath.

Place fava beans in boiling water for about two minutes, just until their skins start to burst.

Remove favas from boiling water and place in ice water bath.

Drain the asparagus and fava beans.

Remove skins from fava beans, if you like. When they’re young I eat them skin and all.

Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of fennel pollen.

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Red Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Eggs

Purple Asparagus

Those of you who know me may be mildly confused (more likely, amused) as to why on earth would I make two egg dishes for my blog in less than a month when, I, in fact, can’t eat eggs. Well, I can eat them. Sort of. Just not alone, and most definitely not first thing in the morning. Oh God, no. Last time I tried that, Adam found me doubled over in pain in the kitchen with a glass of baking soda in water in one hand and aloe juice in the other. It hasn’t always been this way, but for whatever reason, about eight or so years ago, a boiled egg sent my belly into a frenzy of acid washing chaos. Ever since that ill-fated day, I’ve found that I can eat them, but only at the end of the day, with other foods, and not by themselves and definitely not when they’re the star of the dish. No frittatas with brunch, no yummy omelets, no boiled eggs sandwiches, nada. It really is a bummer…I mean, they’re such a protein powerhouse and I do feel deprived …but, that doesn’t mean I don’t love eggs and that surely won’t stop me from photographing them….and occasionally nibbling on them. They’re just too photogenic (and tasty!) to pass up.

I spotted this salad on one of my favorite go-to websites for food and photography inspiration, Australian Gourmet Traveller. Boy, would I love to shoot for them. I’ve tweaked it here and there, as usual, but the spirit of the salad is the same. I’ve made it for Easter supper and it’ll be traveling with us to Adam’s cousin’s house out in the country today. Let’s hope the Gibson clan approves :)

I hope you all have a lovely Easter, and if Easter isn’t your thing, Happy Sunday!


Red Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Eggs

Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller


For the salad:

1/2 cup red quinoa
6 eggs, boiled
1 bunch each green and purple asparagus
Handful of green olives, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup each chopped flat leaf parsley, mint and dill
Sumac, optional

For the Dressing:

1 Shallot, thinly sliced and caramelized
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Splash of champagne vinegar, to taste
Pinch of coarse sea salt


Cook quinoa in 2 cups salted water. Bring to a boil and let simmer, very gently, until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is light and fluffy.

Pour quinoa into a sieve and let dry.

Cook eggs in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Rinse, peel and put aside.

Cut asparagus into 2-3 inch stalks and blanch in boiling water for about 4 minutes.

Place all of the dressing ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to blend.


Once all of the salad ingredients have cooled to room temperature, toss everything, except the eggs and the sumac, together in a large bowl.

Arrange eggs on top and dust generously with sumac.

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I’m usually a less is more kinda of gal. I rarely wear more than once piece of jewelry, I own one winter coat (although that’s starting to change with Portland’s crazy weather), and I don’t like putting too many ingredients in the pot. I like to keep the marriage of tastes to a minimum so picking out subtle flavors happens pleasantly and naturally.

But this morning was a little different. I have a couple of sacks of dried cherries that were a gift from one of my most favorite commercial clients, The Cherry Country. When she handed them too me the first thing that popped into my head was: asparagus. I’ve never cooked with dried cherries before, but these plump, juicy but not too sweet dried Royal Ann cherries (love the name) just swooned for asparagus. The problem was, that I had about another month before asparagus started to nod their little green heads at the markets.

Boy was it worth the wait. These little guys are delicate crisp and lemony and perfectly complimented the Royal Annies.

I had intended only to toss in some caramelized shallots, shredded prosciutto and crumbled ricotta salata to complete the dish, then, I remembered that I had a tiny tub of untouched fennel pollen sitting patiently in my spice drawer. I froze. Would adding fennel pollen be over the top? The cherries were already a departure from my usual methods. They were on the verge of being one ingredient too many. My gut clenched up and I hesitated.

It felt wrong, but I did it anyway.


 Pan Fried Asparagus with Dried Cherries, Prosciutto, Ricotta Salata and Fennel Pollen

Fennel Pollen can be difficult to find. If you live in Portland, Foster and Dobbs offers it. Otherwise, there are a few online resources. It’s worth the search, though. Fennel Pollen adds a hint of delicate anise to the finish of a dish. You may not notice it at first, but it will linger on your palate as the other flavors start to fade.

What you’ll need~

One bunch of young asparagus, trim off the ends so you’re cooking with the tender green parts

Olive oil

One shallot, thinly sliced

Handful of torn or chopped prosciutto

Handful of dried cherries

Ricotta Salata



Coarse sea salt

Fennel Pollen (optional)


Warm your olive oil in a large skillet until it starts to shimmer.

Toss in sliced shallots and a couple of shakes of fine sea salt.

Sauté for about a minute, until they just start to caramelize.

Place asparagus in pan in an even layer and let cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle prosciutto and cherries in during the last minute or two of cooking.

Remove from heat and place asparagus on your favorite serving platter.

Using your fingers, crumble ricotta salata over the dish.

Sprinkle a pinch or two of coarse sea salt.

Dust gently with a pinch or two of fennel pollen.

Serve warm.

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