In anticipation of the first long weekend of summer and of Ontario asparagus now being available in supermarkets all across the province, I give you a quick and easy crowd pleasing appetizer to share with friends… or not.
Here’s hoping next week’s Durham Organics bin will have these green spears of deliciousness tucked inside so I can make this appetizer again. (No pressure April!)
Happy and SAFE long weekend my darlings!
24 thin spears of asparagus, trimmed to same length as breadsticks
24 thick breadsticks (each about 5-inches long)
12 slices prosciutto, cut crosswise in half
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons EACH butter and extra virgin olive oil
• Stack one asparagus spear on a breadstick and wrap snugly with a piece of prosciutto. Use the warmth of your hands to meld prosciutto to breadstick. Repeat with remaining asparagus, breadsticks and prosciutto and set aside.
• Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over medium heat, add vinegar and honey, bring to a boi, and cook until mixture has reduced by half, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
• In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt butter, add oil, and swirl to coat.
• Working in batches if necessary, add prepared breadsticks and cook until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes.
• Stack asparagus breadsticks attractively on a serving platter and using the tines of a fork, drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.
Whisper, whisper :
• Watch vinegar reduction process carefully. It only takes a second for the balsamic drizzle to go from utterly delicious to burnt tasting.
• You can also grill these prepared breadsticks on the barbecue over medium direct heat.
Here’s a great recipe to celebrate spring’s revival of leeks, green garlic and sugar snaps peas. Of note, the leeks and garlic were compliments of this week’s Durham Organics bin.
To make this a vegan-friendly recipe, swap out the chicken stock in favour of vegetable stock and use canned coconut milk instead of the light cream.
For optimum flavour and freshness serve this soup chilled or at room temperature.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, light green and white parts only, halved lengthwise, washed, rinsed and cut crosswise into thin slices
4 green garlic stalks, light green and white parts only or, alternatively, 2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups low sodium chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoons Fridge Whisperer no-salt dried vegetable seasoning (or use Mrs. Dash)
2 pounds fresh sugar snap peas, strings removed (or use 6 cups frozen sweet peas)
2 sprigs fresh mint
1 cup light (10%MF) cream
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
• In a large stockpot set over medium heat, add oil, leeks and garlic and cook until leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Add 2 cups stock, vegetable seasoning, pea pods (or frozen peas, if using) and mint, cover, and cook until peas are very tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Puree pea mixture with a hand immersion blender or, alternatively, in the bowl of a food processor, working in batches if necessary.
• Stir in remaining stock and bring soup to a boil, then remove pot from heat and stir in cream and season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Let soup cool slightly before refrigerating until thoroughly chilled. Serve soup with a drizzle of crème fraîche, lightly thinned sour cream, or extra virgin olive oil and a sprig of mint, if desired.
Whisper, whisper :
• For a velvety texture, strain soup through a fine mesh sieve before refrigerating.
My Durham Organics bin arrived; love the courtesy knock on the door to let me know it’s on the front porch.
There was a lot of green this week… cilantro; leeks; baby bok choy; spinach; collards; broccoli; an artichoke; and lest we not forget, limes and an avocado.
Nothing needed doing immediately for the limes and avocado; in the fruit bowl they went.
As for the cilantro, read my how-to here. It walks you through the process to ensure this most delicious, delicate herb lasts a week (or two!) in your fridge.
Spinach, leeks, broccoli and bok choy were trimmed, rolled in paper towel and placed in airtight plastic food storage bags. (Airtight in that I squeezed all the air out before zipping them shut.)
For the collards, I feel a little tutorial is in order. Collards are great in soups, stews, or simply sauteed like spinach in a little EVOO and garlic. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes if you’re feeling frisky. But if you aren’t going to use them right away, they’ll keep very well in the fridge for a couple of weeks if you show them a little love from the get-go. First you need to remove the stem. I do this by folding each leaf in half lengthwise and slicing off the stem. Next I wash/spin the leaves dry, place them one on top of the other and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch wide slices; fan out on paper towel, roll, bag, refrigerate. Easy, peasy, right?
As for the artichoke, I think Durham Organics was having a little fun with me; one artichoke, really? All said, I have a love-hate relationship with them. Artichokes. Not Durham Organics. I LOVE Durham Organics. Artichokes, however, are a culinary version of The Emperor’s New Clothes. While most in the food trade I know exude its wonderfulness, for me, I think it’s much ado about nothing. For me artichokes are the food version of a Woody Allen film; I don’t get it/them.
All said, she who laughs last laughs best. So, thanks, Durham Organics, for the lone artichoke. I boiled the crap out of it, then when it was cool enough to handle I tore off the leaves and dipped them in drawn butter. Still much ado about nothing.
If anyone reading this post can tell me what the hell to do to ensure artichoke happiness, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My other readers will thank you too!
By the way, the photo of the collards with the white rectangle dish of cut up veg in the background was what was for dinner last night… a Durham Organics veggie stir-fry.
Here you go my darlings, the outcome of my supermarket reconnaissance mission to replicate all the organic produce I received in last week’s Durham Organics bin… 17 items in total of which 9 were locally sourced from farms in the Region (yellow potatoes, yams, green onions, red radishes, chives, garlic, baby bok choy, spinach, portabella mushrooms); Ontario-grown English cucumber; 3 NEVER grown in Canada (grapefruit; bananas; oranges); the remaining 4 (gala apples; collards; Bosc pears; tomato) the growth produce of USA/Mexico.
I was out to prove to you that Durham Organics IS the best choice for getting 100% certified organic produce on your family’s dinner table every night of the week. Did I mention it’s all hand picked, packed and delivered right to your door?
In yesterday’s post, I told you I was holding off on this report at the urging of the produce department at the Metro in North Oshawa who assured me their organics would be ripe for picking this morning. So off I went at 9 a.m. and what did I discover? In two words, EPIC FAIL! Aside from prepackaged solo and mixed organic salad greens (which ALL supermarkets now carry), Metro’s pitiful “Wall-O-Organics” offered broccoli, cauliflower and kale and nothing more. None of these items were in my bin last week. But I guess it’s good knowing before going.
I visited five Oshawa supermarkets… The Real Canadian Superstore at Taunton/Harmony; Sobeys at Taunton/Wilson; Metro at Taunton/Ritson; FreshCo at King/Wilson; No Frills at Simcoe/Rossland. I intentionally did not include Walmart for personal reasons. I suspected the paltry produce sections of supermarket wannabes like Giant Tiger; Shoppers DrugMart, et al, wouldn’t stock organics so I crossed them off my list.
All told, in addition to the aforementioned clamshell solo and mixed organic salad greens, all supermarkets had organic bananas (in the case of FreshCo and No Frills, that’s all the organics they stocked). The Real Canadian Superstore took first place for the most organic produce on offer, and of the 17 items I was specifically looking for they had six of them. Though, truth be told, a few of the items were minutes away from being shrink wrapped and placed on the “for quick sale” death cart. Sobeys placed second with 4 out of 17 items, followed by Metro who had organic Bosc pears.
All told-told, NONE of the 13 items I was able to source from these combined five major supermarkets were from local farms.
All told-told-told, I was unable to find organic collards, bok choy, chives, nor radishes at any of these top five supermarkets. Another reason to go local with Durham Organics.
Food dollar for food dollar, you get what you pay for. While Durham Organics offerings are — as in my case — about 15 per cent higher than going the supermarket route, once you factor in your 100% “certified” organic-carbon footprint-support your local economy-time wasted going from one supermarket to another equation, how can you not want to jump on the Durham Organics bandwagon?
Fridge Whisperer is getting off her soapbox now.