Katie: This was a great weeknight meal! Ken happened to have couscous and asparagus, and I brought over a few extra ingredients to make this delicious Chicken Marsala recipe from Cooking Light, with a side of steamed asparagus. The combination of mushroom-garlic couscous, topped with tender chicken breast, mushrooms, peas, and a savory marsala sauce was perfect! We had to cook the chicken longer than called for, since a frying pan wasn’t quite as effective at flattening chicken as a rolling pin, but otherwise we didn’t make any major changes. It was a nice meal to enjoy on a busy Monday!
Matthew: After have such success with the mint-lime pesto, I was excited to find a recipe for asparagus pesto on the NYTimes website. It uses all the typical pesto ingredients, substituting basil with asparagus. You first cook the asparagus al dente in water on the stove and then throw all the ingredients in the blender or food processor. It’s pretty simple. I ended up using toasted almonds instead of pine nuts. The pesto was really quite delicious and made a nice meal on soba noodles accompanied by heirloom mini tomatoes. Next, I tried it with some spaetzle and that didn’t really work. It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t feel right. I ended up using the rest of it on salads as a dressing, which was delicious. This pesto would really go well in most pasta dishes or vegetable salads.
Katie: The farmers market in Paderborn seems to have a different “it” item each week. While the stands were filled with white asparagus last week, strawberries seemed to outnumber them this week. They smelled so sweet, that I just couldn’t resist buying some, even though I already had some at home.
I decided to try a savory dish using strawberries. This recipe for Strawberry, Pistachio, and Goat Cheese Pizza from Cooking Light caught my eye. I used my favorite pizza dough recipe. Instead of watercress, I decided to go with another spring item, green asparagus. I tried shredding it, like Matt did with his pizza. After rolling out the dough, I brushed it with a little olive oil and added the shredded asparagus, which I had mixed with olive oil, sea salt, and ground black pepper. I then baked the flatbreads for about 15 minutes at 475 degrees, removed them from the oven, and then added the remaining ingredients. I tried putting a couple of the flatbreads back in the oven for a couple of minutes and served the other ones without baking the other ingredients. Both variations worked well.
These were really good! The combination of strawberries, goat cheese, and pistachios worked really well together, and the asparagus added an interesting twist. I added asparagus sparingly, but next time I would probably add a little more. I toasted the pistachios in a frying pan before chopping them, which enhanced their flavor. This was a good spring meal!
Bill: I was inspired by Katie’s recent post to make a quick but tasty meal. Last fall I froze a couple of batches of pesto that I made with almonds. The pesto was frozen in ice cube trays which makes it easy to use later. I pulled out 4 cubes of pesto to use along with 2 servings of pasta. I added some raw shrimp into the boiling water the last two minutes that the pasta was cooking. Jill taught me this trick which is the perfect length of time to cook the shrimp. I also reserved a couple of ladles of pasta water which I added slowly to the pesto cubes to get a nice consistency before adding to the cooked pasta.
To go along with the meal I roasted some asparagus in the oven. Katie, there are some Asparagus Festivals in the Midwest, but I’m not aware of any Asparagus Princesses. You’ll have to take us to a German Asparagus celebration sometime.
Katie: Asparagus is in season here in Germany, and Germans are crazy about asparagus. Just check out pictures of the “Asparagus Princess” and “Asparagus Parade” if you don’t believe me! While white asparagus remains the most popular choice, green asparagus seems to be becoming more readily available.
Rather than preparing asparagus as a side dish, I’ve tried a few recipes this spring that include asparagus in a main dish. So far, I’ve tried Roasted Strawberry and Asparagus Quinoa Salad, which was a great combination and Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Farro Salad, in which I substituted buckwheat groats for farro.
This time, I decided to try a Cooking Light recipe, Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto. Since I wanted something a bit lighter than gnocchi, I decided to substitute whole wheat spiral noodles. This was a dish that was pretty simple to make. It turned out well and was a good choice for a simple, but interesting and flavorful meal. The only change I would make if I made this again would be to use less garlic powder, since it was a little strong. This would probably be good with other pesto recipes as well, maybe even Strawberry Basil Pesto, which I’m curious to try!
I found this easy recipe for pizza on the Smitten Kitchen website and thought it would be a good, quick dinner. I followed the pizza dough recipe here and used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. For the toppings, I substituted Asiago cheese for the Parmesan. Overall it was great! The crust didn’t rise very well (because of the whole wheat flour?) and therefore slightly resembled cardboard, but the toppings definitely made up for it. Since the asparagus is so thin, it cooks in no time. I’d definitely try this again and experiment with another crust recipe or leave the whole wheat flour out of the recipe I used.
Bill: Ok, so I decided to make fish one more time on the grill. This time I did use salmon and was it good. I used the Basic Barbecue Rub from “How to Grill” by Steven Raichlen. Katie, thanks for giving me this book! I also added a few onion flakes on the salmon before putting it on the grill. This version of salmon is just as tasty as the one that I make with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. We also grilled asparagus which turns out great on the grill. An excellent meal!