Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring into Action

Spring associations for the Jersey Girl include but are not limited to:

Cute clothes (I mean, don’t you totally covet the entire spring J. Crew collection? No? Just me?? )

Opening Day. (Which means The Husband will be spending all of his upcoming free time with his mistress aka The Phillies.)


Time for a pedicure.

Window cleaning.


God, my list is so lame.

Today, we will focus on the asparagus. Particularly, the asparagus salad the Jersey Girl rocked out on Easter – the only holiday that the fam permits me to host.

Truth be told, I was totally hoping The Husband would burst into the house during March, pop open a bottle of bubbly and declare, “Woman, Pack your bags. I am whisking you off in a private jet to Aruba for Easter.” Ironically, I have washed my hands of General Hospital for almost a year now. So where this dream came from…. Who knows?

Fun fact: March was the month that The Jersey Girl household was keeping it real with a minimum of one family member per day suffering from some kind of cough, cold or bug. As if, there isn’t enough laundry and cleaning to do when we’re healthy. Thanks, God.

Once April rolled around, my sickly party of three was finally on the mend. And, so of course the Jersey Girl was all about planning the Easter festivities.

By this stage of the game, holiday preparations are a bit like clockwork. Or, tradition if you will.

For instance, my Easter brunch always features Lidia’s Scallion and Asparagus Salad. It’s super awesome and springy. An easy breezy red wine dressing brightens up the blanched vegetables. Once it’s all tossed together, the true symbol of spring – eggs in hard-boiled form – are scattered atop the bowl of green lovelies. Then, you just chill the salad until time to serve.

I suppose the kink in the matter is that the dish MUST be prepared the day of your brunch. This is where my OCD-type list-making comes in real REAL handy.

Scallion and Asparagus Salad
From “Lidia’s Family Table”
Lidia Bastianich
 Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
3/4 pound scallions
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt, or more if needed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

Cooking the Vegetables
With a vegetable peeler, shave off the skin from the bottom 3 inches or so of each stalk, so they cook evenly. Snap off the hard stubs at the bottom of the asparagus stalks—they'll break naturally at the right point.

Trim the root end of each scallion and the wilted ends of the green leaves. Peel off the loose layers at the white end too, so the scallions are all tight, trim, and about 6 inches long.

In a wide deep skillet, bring 1 quart of water (or enough to cover the vegetables) to a boil, and add the asparagus and scallions.

Adjust the heat to maintain a bubbling boil, and poach the asparagus and scallions, uncovered, for about 6 minutes or more, until they are tender but not falling apart, and cooked through but not mushy. To check doneness, pick up an asparagus spear in the middle with tongs; it should be a little droopy but not collapsing.

As soon as they are done, lift out the vegetables with tongs and lay them in a colander (any fat asparagus spears may take a little longer, so leave them in a few minutes more). Hold the colander under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain briefly, then spread on kitchen towels, pat dry, and sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon salt over them.

Making the Salad
Slice the asparagus and the scallions into 1-inch lengths, and pile them loosely in a mixing bowl. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over them, then sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss well, but don't break up the vegetables.
Quarter the eggs into wedges, and slice each wedge into two or three pieces; salt lightly and scatter the egg in the bowl, and fold in with the vegetables. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Chill the salad briefly, then arrange it on a serving platter or on salad plates.