Monday, June 8, 2015

Asparagus and Rhubarb Salad

When spring finally arrives in Southwestern Ontario, the first vegetables seem to hold so much promise.  If you grow rhubarb it is a beautiful and slightly mysterious looking thing that emerges, unfurling from the ground.  Asparagus is stranger still, coming out simply as odd individual spears working their way skyward. 
These perennials are wonderful vegetables but they often seem to get stuck in the same roles; asparagus gets roasted or fried and is served as a side, while the rhubarb gets thrown in desserts and baked goods, never being allowed to truly stand out by itself.
This dish gives both vegetables a chance to be part of a main course in the form of a very hearty salad.  With the addition of spring greens, lentils, and bacon there are lots of flavours at play, but the asparagus and rhubarb are both in the forefront, with the rhubarb giving a wonderful tangy zing and the asparagus a hearty crunch.
This is a very Bailey’s friendly dish, enjoy!  The recipe was inspired by Green Kitchen Stories’ Maple Tossed Rhubarb & Puy Salad

Rhubarb and Asparagus Salad

1 cup lentils
2 cups water
½ tsp. salt
1 bunch asparagus, chopped in 1 inch pieces
3 stalks rhubarb, sliced thinly
½ lb spinach, chopped
Handful young kale leaves, chopped
10 basil leaves, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes
½ lb bacon, fried and chopped
½ cup of your favourite local cheese for salads – goat cheese, feta, etc.

3 tbsp. oil (sunflower, soy, canola, or other local options)
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper

Cook the lentils by bringing them to a boil with 2 cups of water.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until they are soft.  Drain any remaining liquid and add the salt.
Meanwhile fry the bacon and save the grease to add to the greens (optional, but very tasty).  Steam the chopped asparagus using a steamer or a covered pan or pot with a bit of water.  Steam the asparagus until it is bright green but still crunchy.  Remove them from the steamer or pan and allow them to cool and dry on a plate.  Chop the greens, tomatoes, and herbs.  Make the dressing and then toss all the ingredients together in a large salad bowl.  Serve with some hearty rustic bread and butter, or with rice. 

©2015 The Local Kitchener

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