Crisp Asparagus Radish Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Graze or Gobble: Crisp Asparagus Radish Salad! If you can justify the high cost of asparagus, savor every bite. My husband absolutely loves asparagus. When a restaurant offers it as a vegetable option over zucchini, he’ll swallow the up-charge every time and forge ahead like a mighty warrior. So, when I buy a pound of asparagus at the farmer’s market or nearby grocers, I usually have more than one meal planned for it. This time it’s in the form of a side salad.

CRISP ASPARAGUS RADISH SALAD

Ingredients:

1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 radishes, thinly sliced

1 green onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus. Cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain; immediately place asparagus in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Transfer asparagus to a bowl. Add thinly sliced radishes and green onions. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, Dijon mustard, and cayenne pepper. Mix well. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Orange Sesame Asparagus

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Orange Sesame Asparagus! Produce can be a problem keeping fresh in the vegetable crisper. Especially if you buy it in season when it’s plentiful. Oftentimes that means serving the same thing several days in a row, so the trick is to jazz it up with sidekick options and seasoning. Color keeps food interesting the same way dressings and sauces do. You can either make an orange glaze sauce from scratch or open a bottle of Asian vinaigrette. You choose. I feel blessed to have sufficient ingredients in my kitchen that transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary cravings.

ORANGE SESAME ASPARAGUS

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, bottom ends trimmed

15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place asparagus spears in water to blanch, about 3-4 minutes until tender. Remove asparagus with tongs; drain. Transfer asparagus to a platter. Arrange mandarin oranges around asparagus spears. In a skillet, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Add orange juice and lemon juice. Stir to blend. Cook over medium heat, stirring until glaze boils, about 2 minutes. Pour orange glaze over asparagus spears. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Asparagus If You Peas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Asparagus If You Peas! When you’re looking for an appealing salad, think asparagus! You’re going to love the bright greens and vibrant red tones in this one. You may even “Kiss the Cook”. By blanching fresh asparagus, it keeps this popular vegetable tender while remaining crisp. The mild flavor reminds me of Springtime as a kid. I used to forage for wild asparagus along country roads, ditches, and abandoned railroad tracks. The natural pale-green spears standing sentinel made them easy to spot. Everyone had their “secret” places where they knew the plants returned year after year, as long as the stalks were snapped off at ground level leaving the roots intact.

ASPARAGUS IF YOU PEAS

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch fresh asparagus, bottom ends trimmed

1 cup frozen peas, thawed and rinsed

1 cup radishes, sliced thin

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

1/4 cup raw honey

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions:

Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Place asparagus spears in water to blanch, about 3-4 minutes until tender. Remove asparagus with tongs and transfer to a colander in ice water for one minute. Drain. Arrange asparagus spears on a platter. Surround them with peas, sliced radishes, and alfalfa sprouts. Place in refrigerator to chill completely. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, combine raw honey, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, white vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Whisk until smooth and creamy. Drizzle over vegetables, as desired.

Italian Sheet Pan Tilapia

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Palatable Possibilities: Italian Sheet Pan Tilapia! What’s for dinner? You gotta love a one-pan meal. It not only makes preparation and clean-up a breeze, it typically turns into a healthy option as well. Choose seafood, meat, or veggies and then customize the flavor with tangy spices, fresh herbs, and natural oils. Things honestly could not get any easier. You can even take things one step further and divide the pan to accommodate a spicier version on one end and something a little more bland on the other. No matter how you split things up, watch them disappear.

ITALIAN SHEET PAN TILAPIA

Ingredients:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning mix

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets

2 Roma tomatoes, sliced and halved

Parsley, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic powder, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning mix. Reserve 2 tablespoons and set aside. Place asparagus in a single layer on the left side of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Place Roma tomatoes in a single layer down the middle of the baking sheet. Drizzle with remaining olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Arrange tilapia fillets in a single layer on the right side of the baking sheet. Drizzle with butter mixture. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately with reserved butter mixture. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Deep Lagoon Seafood in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Deep Lagoon Seafood in Naples, Florida! What is “Real Florida”, you wonder. Ummm, good seafood. Whenever a restaurant is crowded, we default to a seat at the bar. Rule Number #1, the drinks come faster and Rule Number # 2, you can order food from the menu. Here’s another secret, bar space at most restaurants has become de facto dining. Singles love it, couples are intrigued, and bartenders become your new best friend. That was our first experience at Deep Lagoon. No matter how rushed and harried a bartender may appear, grabbing a drink is easy, ordering a snack is fun, but eating a full dinner is elation. The guy on the stool next to you attests that the Chilean Sea Bass is phenomenal. “You should get it.”, he says. Decision made. Grilled asparagus comes with it; like icing on a cake. Be friendly, but not over eager and you’ll create memories that are worth writing about.

Omelet 101

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Omelet 101. You’re having a get-together and need an effortless, but impressive, breakfast. While everyone is huddling in the kitchen, because this is what people do, pour them a cuppa joe and get started. Making the perfect omelet will have you feeling like a gourmet chef. It’s pretty basic. Use an 8-inch sauté pan with slanted edges and plenty of butter. Fresh veggies and shredded cheese are always a good idea. If you’re nervous about the “flip”, simply do what I do. Put a lid on it.

OMELET 101

Ingredients: (per omelet)

2 eggs

Pinch sea salt

Pinch black pepper

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons smokey Swiss cheese, shredded

Sautéed asparagus tips

Sautéed mushrooms

Instructions:

In a mini chopper, combine eggs, sea salt, black pepper, and water. Beat until light yellow in color. Warm butter in pan over medium-low heat. Do not scorch butter. Pour egg mixture into pan. Do not stir. Swirl the pan so eggs cover the edge. Cook until bottom begins to set, about one minute. Tilt the pan to allow liquid to flow underneath. Slide a rubber spatula around the surface to loosen omelet. Arrange shredded cheese, asparagus tips, and sliced mushrooms across the center of the egg, forming a vertical line. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan with a lid to absorb liquid, about 30-45 seconds. The center will remain creamy. Remove lid. Fold one-third of omelet onto itself. Gently transfer omelet to a plate. Serve immediately.

Vegan Charcuterie Board

Eating My Way Through the Holidays. Festive Food Gifts: Vegan Charcuterie Board! Here’s your solution to what to bring to the next holiday party. Choose popular garden veggies, distinct to the season. Arrange them on a charcuterie board with nuts and flavorful dips. Peruse the local farmers’ market or produce section of your nearest grocers. With a little effort, the Vegan Charcuterie Board can be the star attraction for office pitch-ins, family gatherings, and other festive occasions. Check it out!

VEGAN CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

Carrot sticks

Asparagus spears

Celery sticks

Cherry tomatoes

Mini cucumbers, sliced

Radishes, quartered

Yellow sweet peppers, sliced

Green olives, stuffed

Kalamata olives, pitted

Pistachios in shell

Assorted crackers

Ingredients for Hummus:

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup tahini paste

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

Using a food processor, pulse chickpeas until smooth. Add tahini paste, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin powder, and sea salt. Process until mixed. Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Drizzle with lemon olive oil. Garnish with capers.

Ingredients for Dill Dip:

4 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 tablespoon dill weed

1 teaspoon capers

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

Combine Neufchâtel cheese and prepared horseradish. Stir until smooth. Fold in dill weed, capers, and chives. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

New Asparagus Spears

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: New Asparagus Spears! Every once in awhile I have an “Ah-ha” moment when I come across fresh produce that I haven’t seen in awhile. This was one of those times. New asparagus smells clean and earthy. It also looks incredibly bright green with splashes of purple on the tips, which should be tightly closed. Make sure the stalks are firm and straight. If they seem to bend quite easily, they’ve already begun to wilt. Put them back. Personally, I prefer the thinner stalks simply because they cook much faster.

NEW ASPARAGUS SPEARS

Ingredients:

15-16 asparagus spears

1/2 red onion, sliced

1/2 cup caper berries, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

Everything But Bagel seasoning, to taste

Fennel stalks, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and trim asparagus spears. Place into an iron skillet. Arrange the red onion slices and caper berries. Brush generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with Everything But Bagel seasoning. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly charred. Remove from oven and garnish with fennel stalks. Serve immediately.