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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.

photo 1 (4)

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4 slices bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
1 onion, medium dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz white wine (I used Pinot Grigio, from a box. Don’t judge)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 15-oz cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
15 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

1. In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the bacon lardons until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
2. Combine flour with salt and pepper and dredge the chicken thighs in the flour mixture.
3. Working in batches, add chicken thighs to bacon fat and cook 2-3 minutes each side. Remove from pot and drain on paper towels.
4. Add onion and garlic to the remaining bacon fat and saute until soft and translucent, about 6-7 minutes.
5. Pour in white wine and reduce by 2/3.
6. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves.
7. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and stir in the reserved bacon lardons.
8. Nestle the chicken thighs into the pot and cook for 45 minutes, or until cooked through and tender.
9. Serve alone or over brown rice.

Notes: flour became very very dark (just shy of burnt, really, but thankfully the end result did not taste carcinogenic!), next time omit the flour step and simply season the chicken and sear on both sides. Flour is nice for thickening, but I think, given the length of cooking time, the stew will still thicken nicely. Also, no flour will make this dish gluten-free.

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