Family Circle magazine has just named the town I live in, St. Charles, Illinois, as the #1 city in the country to raise a family—woo hoooooo!!! When Roger and I moved here from Boston 19 years ago, we looked long and hard for someplace that was family friendly since our younger three weren’t even in school yet. Much as we miss Boston, we have come to love St. Charles and all it has to offer. When the time comes to downsize and move back to Boston where we plan to retire to be near extended family once again, I know it will be almost as wrenching to leave here as it was to come here. You couldn’t have convinced me I’d feel this way back then!
St. Charles has a quaint downtown with a number of excellent restaurants. One of the restaurants we go to isn’t my favorite, but it does have my favorite salad on the menu. I’ve tried several of the menu offerings via mooching off Roger’s plate, but the one and only thing I ever order is the roasted asparagus salad with balsamic dressing. It was pretty easy to pick it apart to figure out how to make it at home. All I had to do was come up with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. We have enjoyed this salad at home several times this summer; and, before asparagus disappears from the stores with summer almost over, I wanted to share it with you.
I was going to call this “Fran’s Favorite Asparagus Salad,” but I think the current title could command a higher price on a menu, don’t you?
Roasted Asparagus Salad with Cannellini and White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Where it makes sense, I’ve listed a quantity for the salad ingredients below. As for the amounts of the remaining ingredients, it is totally up to your personal preference and the number of people being served.
- 1 or 2 bunches of asparagus, thicker spears are better for roasting
- 2 to 3 tbl. olive oil for drizzling over asparagus
- 1 15-oz. can of cannellini (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Green onions, chopped
- Roasted red peppers, optional
- Mix of your favorite salad greens [You can buy a packaged mix to make things easier. I always make my own mix of my favorite greens which include arugula (my #1 fav!), red leaf lettuce, romaine, baby spinach, Boston lettuce (of course!) and radicchio.]
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbl. parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
Pour balsamic vinegar into a food processor along with the Dijon mustard. With motor running, add extra virgin olive oil in a slow stream so that it emulsifies. Pour dressing into a cruet or bottle and add the crushed garlic clove, parsley, and salt and pepper. Shake well and often! If you do not want to use or don’t have a food processor, put all the ingredients in a cruet or bottle and find someone with a strong arm to shake the h*ll out of it to emulsify the dressing. You will need to shake it again just prior to pouring over salad.
Preheat oven to 425o F. After washing asparagus, hold stalks between your hands and bend them until they break at the tough, woody end. Throw away the woody ends. Place trimmed asparagus in a single layer on a cookie sheet or broiling pan. Drizzle with olive oil and roll asparagus around so that they are covered with oil.
Place asparagus in oven and roast for 8 to 12 minutes until nicely brown and fork tender but not overly soft. Time will depend on thickness of the asparagus. While you are roasting the asparagus, you can assemble your salad on individual plates. If salad plates are not ready when asparagus is done, set it aside. The asparagus can be hot or room temperature when added to salad.
The quantities for all the salad ingredients are totally up to your personal preference and the number of people being served. Place salad greens on plates, followed by the cannellini, tomatoes, green onions, and roasted red pepper if using.
Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and serve.
Fran’s Note: Add chicken, salmon, or beef to make this a main meal which will meet Atkins or The Zone criteria.
Source: Frantastic original