Spring Tabbouleh Recipe

I have a confession. I have a seasonal addiction to asparagus. My heart skips a beat when I start seeing an abundance of those delectable little spears at the grocery store. I could eat it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I make my entire family eat a obcene amount of asparagus for 2 months. Before my family puts me on TLC’s My Strange Addiction here is one of my favorite recipes involving asparagus (borrowed from http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/spring-tabbouleh-recipe.html):
1 cup fine bulgur 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments 1 cup peas, freshly shelled or frozen
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with 2 big pinches of salt 1 lemon, juice only 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch chives, finely chopped 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Fill a medium sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. You are going to use some of this water over the bulgur (to cook it), and the rest to blanch (quick-boil) the peas and asparagus.
Put the bulgur in a medium bowl, add boiling water to the surface of the grains and let it stand for about 15 minutes, just until tender. Drain and press out any remaining water and toss with a couple pinches of salt. Set aside.
Return the saucepan to the heat and bring the remainder of the water back up to a boil. Salt the water and cook the asparagus and peas for just about 20 seconds, just long enough for them to brighten up and lose a bit of their bite. Drain, run under colder water to stop the cooking, and add to the bulgur.
For the dressing, whisk the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil together and season with more salt if needed.
To the bulgur, asparagus, and peas add 1/2 the chives and 1/2 the walnuts. Toss with a big splash of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Adjust the seasoning as well at this point. Garnish with the remaining chives, walnuts, and chopped egg and serve.
Serves 4 – 6.


Asparagus Pesto

I was given a subscription to Rachael Ray’s magazine as a gift. I am not a huge fan. I don’t watch the show. In fact, the way she cooks with her hair down and jewelery dangling in the food, freaks me out a bit. I also have a problem with adding sodium filled chicken broth and EVOO by the cup full. I was flipping through her latest issue and thought I would try it. I switched it up a bit. Pretty darned good! The kids ate peas, spinach, and asparagus and never even knew it!
1 pound thin asparagus
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (I omitted these)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves (I omitted these)
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves or 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (I used 3/4 cup baby spinach to replace the mint, parsley, and basil/ tarragon)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3-4 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
1 clove garlic, grated or made into a paste
Juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne (I used whole wheat shells)
1 cup fresh shelled peas or defrosted frozen organic peas
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Serves 4

Trim the tough ends from the asparagus. Store half of the spears upright in a glass filled halfway with water to keep it fresh for a few days, or until ready to serve. Chop the remaining asparagus and place it in a food processor. Add the mint, parsley, tarragon, cheese, pistachios, garlic and lime juice. Add the EVOO, pouring to a count of 6 (1/3-1/2 cup). Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the pesto comes together. Place in a small container and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.
To serve, bring the pesto to room temperature and place it in a large, shallow serving bowl. Slice the reserved asparagus spears on an angle into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta and season with salt. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes, then add the peas and chopped asparagus and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the starchy cooking water and add it to the serving bowl to thin the pesto. Drain the pasta, peas and asparagus and add to the bowl. Toss for 1-2 minutes to combine. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the shaved cheese.
*Cook’s Note: The pesto can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.