By Freya Bellin
As the weather finally becomes mild, the word picnic has returned to my vocabulary, and I’ve started mentally collecting good recipes for outdoor eating. Not all tasty dishes make tasty picnic fare, but fortunately, most pasta salads will do the trick—especially if they taste good at room temperature, like this one. I love how filling soba noodles are, and they still match well with light sauces and green veggies, as in this recipe. The sauce is simple but flavorful, and the asparagus and edamame are a beautiful, springy contrast to the dark noodles. Try to get your hands on some of the lovely asparagus that’s out there while it’s still super fresh. And happy picnicking! Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
Asparagus are terrific when blasted with high heat; if you haven’t had them browned, you’re in for a new treat. If you have a grill going, you should really try grilling them; thick spears, especially, are wonderful this way (thin ones are good too, but you have to be especially careful not to let them fall through the grill grates). If the grill is not on, roast them. They’re amazing this way, especially with butter. Recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
Picked up a nice bunch of asparagus yesterday from a not-quite local but nearby source. And, because I could, I decided to roast it.
Roasting asparagus is pretty simple, and you can turn it into an awesome gratin by just topping it with bread crumbs, or blue cheese or Parmesan, or whatever else you like. (There’s a discussion of this here and, as it’s asparagus season, you might also want to look at this Mini, if you haven’t already.)
But I happened upon the tiniest piece of guanciale in my freezer. When I say “tiny” I mean, less than two ounces; maybe one. So I took the easy way out. Peeled the asparagus (they were fat), and put them in a cast iron skillet with the diced guanciale, salt, pepper, and – because there was so little guanciale – a little bit of olive oil.
I roasted that for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan after 10 and 15. And talk about impact: it tasted like a meat dish. Made me wonder what other treasures are lying around in my freezer…
By Pam Anderson
[Pam Anderson is a veteran food writer and cook book author, a colleague of mine from the old Cook’s magazine (the predecessor of Cook’s Illustrated) – there are times I feel like she and I learned to cook together, because our styles are so similar. She blogs weekly with daughters Maggy and Sharon at threemanycooks.com--an ongoing lively conversation about food and life. -mb]
Most of the time it’s fun to be a food writer. Sometimes it’s not. Like last Friday when David and I went to a matinee of Date Night. Despite bad reviews we refused to believe Steve Carrell and Tina Fey wouldn’t be hilarious together.
We got out of the movie about 5:30 and auto-piloted home to make dinner from a week’s worth of recipe experiments languishing in the fridge. We’re usually very good at turning these little tidbits into a feast, but sometimes I just wish we were the normal couple for whom dinner-and-a-movie means going out. Continue reading