What to do when the asparagus starts to wake up in the patch? One only harvests a spear or two at first, and if the gardener doesn't snap them off at a certain height, the plant's energy goes to seed production. And we prefer stems to seeds with our asparagus.
So I usually have a "bouquet" of two or three lovely green spears on my kitchen window sill in early Spring before the asparagus engine really gets going. Sometimes I have the patience to wait a full week to roast or steam them up, but today I was trying to assemble a dinner out of the many leftover edible bits in our fridge and snapped them up to mix with a less-than-fresh head of broccoli that had been hiding out in the vegetable drawer with an equally forgotten half of a red pepper. And I didn't remember buying that red onion, hidden underneath a cabbage. With a knob of hardened mozzarrella (just slice that arid bit off), some leftover fresh (well, less than fresh, but not bad-smelling) mozzarella balls, I was in business.
And so was born,
A Serendipitous Springy Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and stem peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup mozzarella, cut into cubes (I had some leftover fresh mozzarella balls and a stub end of regular mozzarella)
2 Tbsp. red onion, diced fine
3-4 asparagus spears, cut into 3/4 inch slices (looks nice sliced on the bias)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp. dried basil (or 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, slivered, or 2 Tbsp. pesto)
Bring a small amount of salted water to a rapid boil in a pot. Add broccoli and cover and cook 3 minutes. Toss in asparagus and steam another 1-2 minutes. Drain vegetables, rinse in cold water and let drain. Pat dry.
Place broccoli, asparagus, mozzarella and red pepper in salad bowl.
Blend together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil and salt and pepper. Pour over veggies and mozzarella and toss gently to coat.
Serves 4 as a side salad or 2 as a main course over a bed of salad greens. We enjoyed it served immediately at room temperature, but the leftovers were also great chilled and served the next day.
I thought I would share a serving of this salad with Weekend Herb Blogging, the wonderful weekly showcase of the Edible Vegetable Kingdom, headquartered by Haalo at Cook Almost Anything At Least Once, and hosted this week over at Cafe Lynnylu. Check out Lynnylu's great photography and wonderful recipes; they are a visual treat.