The Simple Things: Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter. I’m at a point in my life (i.e. one year until I graduate from college) where suddenly it seems like the “big things” take precedence. And then I take a step back and I see this:

…a still pond on a perfect summer’s day…

…a surprise thunderstorm…

…Robin’s egg blue nail polish…

…and a fabulous, fresh, seasonal, and simple dinner.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus is a new favorite of mine, despite the fact that my pee smells after eating asparagus. Nonetheless, roasting fresh asparagus with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and a spritz of balsamic vinegar is a way to showcase this vegetable.

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

1 lb. asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

1/4 cup olive oil

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup  balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place asparagus in a Ziploc bag and pour olive oil into bag. Shake until the asparagus is coated. Place on baking sheet and sprinkle the cheese on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for minutes 12-15 minutes until asparagus is tender but crisp. Remove from oven and drizzle vinegar before serving.

Corn Chowder

If you have ever tried to photograph soup, you will know that it is hard to make it look appealing. It usually looks like a bowl of mush, or a bowl of a solid color. No glamour, that’s for sure.

But just because a food may not look great in a photograph doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. 

Here’s a recipe for Corn Chowder, which doesn’t involve cream but instead skim milk. I froze it, stupidly, and the leftovers were not good. So if you try this soup out, plan on either eating it in one sitting, or refrigerating for a few days.

Corn Chowder

2 tbs butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced

3 tbs minced poblano pepper

2 Yukon Gold potatoes

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups frozen or canned sweet corn

1/3 C All-Purpose flour

3 1/2 C skim milk

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat butter at medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrot, peppers, and potatoes. Add vegetable broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and milk. Pour into soup pot and stir. Add corn, thyme, salt and pepper. Let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes on stove.

Green Things, Roasted

The best thing about being back at school, other than my brilliant Creative Writing Workshop, is that I finally have an oven. I am (most certainly) making my way in life: first going from an oven-less kitchen with a less-than-desirable electric stove top, then to an kitchen with an oven and a more desirable electric stove top. Next stop: commercial-grade eight burner gas stove. I kid, but I do dream.

During one of my sweeps of the internet for recipes and food photos, I decided to google: recipes for one person. I was surprised to find that there are very few sites with somewhat appealing recipes for one person. Of course, there is the recipe for a dozen cookies that could easily be mistaken for one serving.

Disappointed and with few ingredients available, I opted for a green, filling, and perfectly-sized meal: couscous and roasted broccoli. Why had I never thought to roast broccoli before? It is by far one of the best ways I have ever eaten broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli

2 florets of broccoli

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp olive olive

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place broccoli on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli starts to brown and is tender when pierced. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.

At last, Black Beans (and a Quinoa Salad)

As you may know from previous posts, there seems to be a black bean shortage in Australia. Boy, are those Aussies missing out on my favorite protein-packed legume. Now that I’m home, you can imagine my excitement as I swiped cans of black beans into my cart at the supermarket. It probably looked like I was preparing for a winter storm, or a fiesta for one thousand hungry guests. Instead, I planned on making a Black Bean Quinoa Salad.

It is nice to see some color from onions, pepper, cilantro and corn (even if it is canned) at this time of year. I added more salt than the recipe calls for, seeing as I didn’t believe a quarter teaspoon would be enough for the massive amount of salad the recipe makes. By massive, I mean I had to use the biggest bowl in my kitchen which barely fits in the refrigerator. Nonetheless, the salad tastes great as leftovers, as the dressing keeps the salad moist and delicious. And an added benefit is that this salad is supremely healthy, filled with beans and veggies, as well as the super-food quinoa.

Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 can corn

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 large avocado, diced

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped

Juice of 3 limes

2 tsp cumin

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, to taste

 

Cook quinoa according to package (typically 1 cup uncooked quinoa to 2 cups water, bring water and quinoa to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes). Let cool.

Mix black beans, onion, cilantro, pepper, avocado and corn in a really large bowl. Toss.

In small bowl, whisk together lime juice, cumin, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.

Add quinoa to salad. Pour dressing over and toss.