To me there are a few perfect foods, asparagus, lemons and Parmesan cheese being three of them and they happen to work perfectly together.
I did not make this perfect dish up, but some ancient Italian gets the well deserved credit, but I did cook it today and thought if you have never had it you would want to eat it right away, especially now that we are entering spring asparagus season.
Big bunch of asparagus
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Juice and zest of one lemon
Cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400º
Cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray it with Pam. Cut the tough ends off the asparagus and lay it on the foil in a single layer. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until the asparagus just starts to brown. If your asparagus is thin, like a pencil cut the cooking time down, if it is thick increase it.
Pull the cookie sheet out of the oven and sprinkle the asparagus with the cheese and put it back in the oven for five more minutes.
Remove from oven and squeeze juice of lemon all over it and dust with the zest and cracked black pepper.
In the spring I made a full fat kale Caesar salad for a charity dinner I was one of the chefs for. It was a huge hit with the guest, most proclaimed kale haters. Unfortunately it was at the end of the spring kale season so I did not get a chance to recreate it in a healthier format.
This week the kale in my fall garden is something the garden steelers (and I am not talking a football team) have not discovered they liked so I decided to make the Caesar Salad in a lighter way.
I planted the curly version of kale, but I think the flatter type would work fine too. The key is to strip the leaves from the stalks and cut it up into very fine bits. This will make four servings as a starter or two giant meal sized salads.
12 big kale leaves – stripped from stalks and minced
2 hard boiled eggs – finely chopped
½ cup shredded Parmesan Cheese – a little less if you are using grated cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T. sherry vinegar
1 t. anchovy paste
1 t. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil
Make the dressing by putting all the ingredients except the olive oil in small bowl and mixing it together well. Using a whisk, start stirring the dressing and dribbling in a little oil drop by drop. It is not going to be a very creamy dressing because it uses a smaller amount of oil, but it will be perfectly thick and delicious. You will not have a salad drowning in dressing, but the strong flavors all work well together.
Put the kale in a large bowl and pour the dressing over it and toss to coat. Add the egg and cheese and toss and serve.
The last few years pine nuts have been way out of sight price wise. I don’t know if the whole Italian economy was propped up on pine nut futures, but I felt that $40 a pound was just too much to pay. So today when I noticed that my basil crop was in need of a good harvesting I decided to make half a pesto.
What is half a Pesto? I just wanted to chop the Basil with very little olive oil and lots of garlic. My thinking behind this is I can use that as a base and add what ever I want at the time of using it. Tonight I roasted corn on the grill and spread the partial pesto on each ear and then sprinkled Parmesan over each ear. The only part of traditional pesto that was left out were the pine nuts. We did not miss them a bit.
2 T. olive oil
150 basil leaves
7 cloves of Garlic
Put the oil and the garlic in the cuisineart and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the basil and run the machine until the basil is finely minced. This will make about a cup of Pesto Base. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze it in for up to a year.
1 T. of Parmesan Cheese for each ear of corn
Corn – You may want more than one ear per person
Heat the grill on high. Husk corn, and wet the ear. Place on grill and closed lid. Cook for 8 mins. Until grill marks start to blacken the kernels. Roll the corn ¼ turn and close the lid and cook another 3 minutes. Repeat until the whole ear has been rotated all the way around.
When you remove the corn from the grill, brush with the pesto base and sprinkle cheese all over and enjoy!