Lunch Today: Asparagus and Baby Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing

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asparagusWe are still enjoying the asparagus harvest around here. In-season asparagus is definitely a favorite, plus it offers a low-calorie way to boost your diet with bone-strengthening vitamin K and folate, as well as fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamins A, C, B and E, and the phytochemicals beta-carotene and chlorophyll. Combined with baby spinach (or any other tender green) and delicious tahini dressing makes this a perfect spring lunch, or a great side dish for dinner.

Although the dressing is a bit prep intensive, it can be made and ahead and stored in the fridge for up to a week. You can also use it on other foods as well!

Asparagus and Baby Spinach Salad with Tahini Dressing

• 1 tsp coriander seeds
• 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
• 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
• Zest and juice from 1 lemon
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• 1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 14 oz can or jar of artichoke hearts, drained
• 4 large radishes, thinly shaved
• 2 Tbsp tahini
• 1/4 tsp paprika
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted

In a small saucepan, add coriander, fennel, and peppercorns. Toast in a dry pan until aromatic and seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn. Use a mortar and pestle and lightly crush. Return the mixture to the saucepan along with lemon zest, olive oil, thyme and garlic. Simmer over medium-low heat until the garlic begins to sizzle, about 5 minutes. Remove, cover the pan with a lid, and set aside for 15 minutes for flavors to blend. Then strain the oil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, place some ice cubes, fill with water and set aside. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add asparagus spears to boiling water and briefly blanch until bright green but still crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately drain and place the asparagus in
ice water to stop the cooking. Remove and blot dry.

Place asparagus and spring greens on a large platter and add artichoke hearts and radishes.

In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, tahini, paprika, salt and honey. Strain the infused garlic oil into the lemon juice and whisk thoroughly to fully emulsify. Drizzle 2 to 3 Tbsp of dressing over the top of the salad and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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February 2023