This quick pasta salad is good to have on hand as we approach Holy Week and the comings and goings associated with its additional liturgies. Traditional Broccoli Sunshine Salad becomes a vegetarian meal by swapping bacon/ham for legumes and tossing it with pasta. My family's version of the original salad did not include cheese, but there's no reason why you can't add some.
Broccoli Sunshine Pasta (Serves 6)
1 lb box short pasta
3 cups broccoli florets, cut in spears
1.5 cups cups cooked legumes or canned equivalent (I think kidney beans are prettiest, but anything goes- I used garbanzos in the version pictured)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 T minced red onion
1 T poppy seeds
2 T cider vinegar
1 T sugar
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
Prepare pasta according to box directions, adding broccoli in last minute of cooking. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, prepare the dressing by combining mayonnaise, onion, poppy seeds, vinegar and sugar. Drain pasta/broccoli mixture, and toss with dressing and beans. Gently fold in dried cranberries and sunflower seeds, if using. Chill before serving.
In my neck of the woods, we tend to get a few 70 degree days toward the end of Lent. Salade Nicoise is a perfect entree for those warmer days. I admit to painting with broad strokes- the traditional tuna, green beans, eggs, potatoes, and olives often find themselves paired with anything that looks good. My family favors a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice, but if you want to go all out, here's a recipe for the traditional version. Serve with crusty bread.
Salade Nicoise (serves 4)
1 head Bibb or romaine lettuce
1/2 lb green beans, blanched
1/2 lb new potatoes, boiled and cooled
12 oz can tuna packed in oil, drained
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered
1/2 cup black olives
other seasonal vegetables as desired
Dressing, as desired, in a small jug or pitcher
Arrange ingredients on a bed of lettuce on a large platter. Let each person serve themselves and dress the salad as desired.
This formula works for almost any vegetable or combination of vegetables, fresh or frozen. For maximum aesthetic appeal, use vegetables similar in color if combining.
In a dutch oven, sautee carrots and onion in butter until the onion is tender. Work in the flour to form a roux. Cook a few minutes until the roux is lightly browned. Add the milk and stir continuously until the roux is worked in and no lumps remain. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until carrots are tender, about 45 minutes. Puree soup and transfer to tureen or clean pot. Season to taste.
Delicious as this soup was, my family was hungry 90 minutes later, so I would recommend serving it with some cheese or an omelette.
So, in my post on making stock from vegetable scraps, I said that the only part of the onion I don't save are the very dried, papery layers of skin. Well, it turns out that, this time of year, there's a good reason to save those, too.
It's a Greek tradition to dye Easter eggs blood-red, to represent the Blood of Christ, and believe it or not, this color can be acheived with just the skins of a dozen or so yellow onions and a bit of vinegar. Sounds like a good excuse for French Onion Soup to me.
The first hints of spring have finally arrived here this week, but there's still plenty of snow left in the shady spots. This soup is perfect for this transitional time of year, combining the delicate flavor of spring vegetables with a rich, creamy base. Go easy on the seasonings here; the asparagus is the real star of this dish.
1 lb. fresh white asparagus
2 T sugar
Salt, to taste
12 tbsp. butter, divided
2 T fresh lemon juice
12 T flour
¼–½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Bring twelve cups of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Meanwhile, trim off the bottom ½" of the asparagus. Peel the skin from each, starting 1½'' from the top and running the length of the spear. Reserve peels. Gather spears into 2 bundles and tie loosely with kitchen string.
When water in pot comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Add the reserved peels, sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 3 T butter, and lemon juice. Return to a simmer, then add asparagus and cook until tender, 8-30 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus (test by piercing with the tip of a knife held perpendicular to the length of the stalk). Remove asparagus from pot and drain on paper towels, then set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and reduce stock by one-third, about 30 minutes. Strain stock and keep hot over low heat.
Melt the remaining 9 T butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for two minutes, do not brown. Whisk in hot asparagus stock 1 cup at a time and continue whisking until smooth. Simmer soup, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes. If desired, add cream to taste and continue simmering for 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and a little more lemon juice or white wine, if you like.
Untie asparagus bundles, then cut spears into 1'' lengths and add to soup. Simmer until spears are warmed.
We've had the flu (or something like it) for the past week here, and I'm slowly emerging from the fog to realize that a lot of the produce here is in dire need of using-up. First on the triage list: some lovely mulit-colored cherry tomatoes.
I drastically simplified this tomato tart recipe by laying out a piece of freezer puff pastry, slashing part way through about 1" from the edges (this helps the crust to rise), and adding mustard, honey, tomatoes, cream cheese (a more assertive cheese would have been better with these sweet tomatoes, but we use what we've got), and rosemary.
400º for 20 minutes, and all we needed were a couple of fried eggs to call this dinner.