A springtime salad with lemon roasted asparagus, quinoa with lemon vinaigrette and roasted shallots, all atop a fresh spinach bed.
Easter is coming.
This isn’t a new revelation. It’s just fact, a fact that I’ve been avoiding. I may have even been hiding from it as though it frightens me. The same way I cowered under my covers after viewing a TV special in the ’80s, convinced that a panther lie in wait in my closet. I was paralyzed by fear then, knowing that if I moved even the smallest bit or tried to make a break for the door the panther would pounce, and I would be a goner.
I often run away from social situations, knowing this is not where I shine, and while Easter happens to only contain safe situations where I’m surrounded by family and friends, I still find myself dreading going through the motions. (Aunt Cindy, I apologize. It’s not you. It’s me.)
Not only that, but I’ve been asked to bring dessert to each and every dinner and meal. Dessert. I can do that. I have a cheesecake bars recipe idea with a light lemon crust that I’m trying out on my aunts and uncles and cousins, and there will be carrot cake tomorrow by request for Kiera’s 12th birthday. (Did I just type that? Twelve.)
The real issue here, is that I don’t want dessert. Instead, I’ve been feeling a lot like eating salad. So, while I prepared to embark on creating enough dessert to feed two separate crowds and a total of 55 people, I made myself a salad. THIS is what I would bring if I were asked to bring salads instead of dessert. They all missed out.
Have a wonderful weekend, whether you’re celebrating Passover, Easter, or just the coming of the sun. Eat a salad. Enjoy the weather.
1 pound fresh asparagus spears, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 whole lemon, juiced and zested
cracked black pepper
3 shallots, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sherry
For the lemon vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (use remaining 1/2 lemon from above)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves or other baby lettuce mix
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Rinse quinoa in a small mesh strainer. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa with 2 cups of water. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
While the quinoa is simmering, toss the asparagus spears in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Arrange the spears on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Squeeze half of the lemon over them, soaking the ends as much as possible with the juice. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the halved shallots, cut side up, in a small ramekin. Dot the butter over the top. Pour the sherry over the shallots and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place in the oven alongside the asparagus. Bake the asparagus for 8 to 10 minutes until the asparagus ends start to brown lightly. Leave the ramekin with the shallots in another 10 minutes or so until the cut ends start to brown.
Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while continuously whisking until all of the oil is incorporated.
When the quinoa and shallots are finished cooking, break up the shallots using a spoon so the sections come apart and pour the shallots and the butter sauce they were baked in into the quinoa. Add the lemon vinaigrette and stir until quinoa is coated.
In a serving dish layer the spinach leaves, dressed quinoa, and the asparagus. Garnish the entire dish with lemon zest. Serve immediately.
Makes 6-8 servings.