Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Asparagus + strawberries + mint + lemon = spring in a bowl. Add feta and spinach and you can’t hold me back. I might never have thought to combine these exact ingredients before stumbling across this salad from Bev Cooks on the magical Interwebs, but of course they go together brilliantly. (I’ve already combined strawberries and avocado, so why not strawberries and asparagus?) I doubled the recipe to serve four (as a side), swapped the feta in for goat cheese (not my fave), and upped the lemon juice ratio in the dressing (I like mine acidic). I used salted pepitas because I happened to have some on hand, and I did like them against the sweetness of the strawberries, but I think a lot of other options would work well here, too—pecans, sunflowers seeds, almonds, or even walnuts. The lemon-mint dressing was particularly nice; I had contemplated trying some sort of balsamic dressing instead, worried about the mint being too overpowering and weird, but it was subtle, just enough to add a crisp and refreshing aftertaste, and kept this salad on the delicate side, which is perfect for spring. I ate some leftover dressing on plain spinach later in the week and it was so good on its own that I started envisioning using it on other fruit-with-greens salads throughout the summer (I bet it would be nice with blueberries or peaches).

1 bunch (about ½ pound or less) asparagus, ends trimmed, stalks sliced into 2-inch pieces
10 mint leaves
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
About 3 cups baby spinach
About 1 cup strawberries, rinsed and thinly sliced
¼ cup pepitas, toasted
¼ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath or under cold running water. Pat dry.

2. Using a mini food processor or an immersion blender, combine the mint leaves with the oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Arrange the spinach in a bowl or on a plate. Top with sliced strawberries, blanched asparagus, toasted pepitas, crumbled cheese, and a good drizzle of the lemon-mint dressing.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: OK, but you should store the components separately and assemble them only when ready to eat.

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