Sunday, March 27, 2011

Herbs & Hors d'oeuvres

The farmer's market on Saturday was an herby delight! Although it is only Spring, the summer vegetables are in full-force here in Florida. I left the market with beautiful bunches of dill, parsley, mint, cilantro and basil. I got so excited about my bounty that I decided to use all of them in one dinner.

Luckily, I was having some friends over to eat some of these herby creations. I already had curried tofu marinating in the fridge, and some beautiful butter lettuce from the market as well. Indian was the obvious thought, but that cuisine alone wouldn't allow me to use all my goodies. So, i decided an international appetizer night was needed. Please excuse the picture quality - I hope to get a better camera soon!

Herbs & Hors d'oeuvres
- Crispy potato & parsley pancakes with yoghurt, baked salmon and fresh dill
- Sauteed asparagus bruschetta with crispy shallots & fresh basil
- Curried tofu with tamarind chutney & mint/cucumber raita in butter lettuce cups garnished with fresh cilantro

All of these dishes were relatively simple to make, but my favorite was the bruschetta. In Napa, Geoff and I had lunch at this resort hotel that was recommended to us. It was on a beautiful property, but we didn't have high expectations of a "restaurant hotel." It turned out to be one of the best meals of the entire trip - he had a delicious tuna burger with kimchi (which I will try to recreate soon), and I had asparagus bruschetta with egg, mustard sauce, & pickled shallots. This light, lively dish was so incredible, I decided to try it at home. I knew I couldn't duplicate the taste of the fresh, local asparagus they had, but I think I have come close. The result is a dish that is no only healthy, but beautiful. Serve this as an appetizer when you want to impress.

Sauteed Asparagus Bruschetta with Crispy Shallots
Serves 4

Bruschetta Ingredients
1 large multigrain baguette (I prefer whole-wheat, but sourdough works nicely)
olive oil
goat cheese
2 bunches asparagus (local is best)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (canola works as well)
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
sea salt & pepper

Mustard Sauce
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons vegan mayo (or regular)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
sea salt & pepper

Slice the baguette on a bias (at a sharp angle) about 1/2 inch thick. Brush olive oil onto both sides of each slice, and toast in oven on broil until golden brown. Flip, then toast other side.

In a small bowl (or squeeze bottle if you have it), whisk together mustard sauce ingredients. Taste for seasoning and adjust.

In small skillet, heat grapeseed oil on medium-high. Add shallots and fry until brown, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to burn. Remove to paper towel.

Remove woody stems from asparagus by snapping them off. There is a natural breaking point in asparagus, so it will break where it needs to. Slice the tips off, and set the edible stems aside*. Saute tips in olive oil, salt & pepper until slightly brown. Add a little water to the pan to steam a bit. Once the water evaporates, taste. They should be soft but not mushy. Continue to add water until desired tenderness. Remove to bowl, let cool just a little, then toss with lemon juice & basil, reserving just a little basil.

To assemble, place a dollup of sauce on the plate for each piece of bruschetta. Spread a light layer of goat cheese on each toast, and top with asparagus tips and crispy shallots. Drizzle with one last little bit of olive oil, s&p, and a bit of basil. Plate on top of mustard sauce and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

*The stems are perfect for asparagus soup - so don't throw them away! You can also grate them with a vegetable peeler and make a simple salad with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and shaved parmigiano.

1 comment:

  1. All this look amazing! Looking forward to your Napa inspired dishes :)