With these 40- and 50-degree days, I am getting ready for spring. This salad takes advantage of crisp, raw asparagus, both shaved with a vegetable peeler and thinly sliced for both texture and presentation. Served alongside stewed chicken to lighten the fare.
1 bunch asparagus (the thicker the stalks, the better)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pecorino, shaved (using a vegetable peeler)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel and discard the rough, bottom inch or two of the asparagus stalks.
2. Peel half the asparagus stalks over a bowl. Do not peel the tips: leave them whole.
3. Thinly slice the other half of the asparagus on a bias, again, leaving the tips intact.
4. Add pine nuts (I left them raw out of sheer laziness, but feel free to toast), shaved pecorino, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Gently toss to combine.
There is something about peas that really bothers me. Perhaps it’s that they’re not all that great. Seldom do I eat something with peas as the centerpiece and think, Damn—these peas just make me wanna take my pants off. For this reason I question my motivation to torture myself with a pea and mint crostini.
Heat frozen peas in boiling water or in the microwave until fully defrosted (they don’t have to be warm, just thawed). Combine with chopped fresh mint, minced garlic, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly squeezed lemon juice, S & P. Mash gently with a fork. Don’t puree to oblivion; we want to know we’re dealing with crappy old peas. Spread on toasted baguette and garnish with a bit more shaved or grated Pecorino.
After trying this crostini, I turned into a pea fanatic! No, that’s a lie. But I did quite enjoy the brightness of the peas, the fresh mint flavor, and the contrast of the mash to the crunch of the baguette. I’ve become less offended by the little guys, and perhaps more inclined to use them in the future.
For now, however, the pants are staying put.