When daffodils bloom in the Spring (tra la), I know asparagus season isn't far behind. For the six weeks each year that our local farm sells it cut fresh from the field, I will eat asparagus every day, every way: cooked, raw, shaved, chopped, steamed, sautéed, stir-fried. It's been a few years since I posted a top-ten asparagus recipe round-up here. And it's been two years since I shared 101 favorite asparagus recipes from food bloggers. So, this year I offer you my best vegetarian (meatless) asparagus recipes. Many are gluten-free, too. Let the season begin.
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After spending a lifetime turning up my nose at Brussels sprouts (and all of the cruciferous vegetables), I'm kinda-sorta falling in like with them. It's not yet love, but it's definitely like. I've figured out that roasting, or shredding, or marinating Brussels sprouts brings out the natural sweetness I never knew they had. In this quiche, the sprouts hang out with bacon and cheese, creating a trifecta of textures and flavors that's irresistible. Served at room temperature, quiche makes a lovely light supper main dish, with a green salad on the side, and a glass of something bubbly to wash it all down. For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the bacon. For a gluten-free version, bake it without the crust.
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On the day I made this dish to photograph -- the third time we ate this salad in one week -- I intended to go to the fish market and buy a beautiful melange of scallops and mussels and maybe some chunks of salmon, and mix them all together with the broccoli and curry yogurt dressing. I intended to go, but I didn't. So, I made the salad with large shrimp I had in the freezer, and it was every bit as good as the mixed seafood, which proves that a great salad dressing can snazz up any ingredients you toss with it. Let your imagination, and the fishmonger, guide you, and combine any fish and shellfish with crisp broccoli florets, lightly blanched, and some toasted cashews (or pine nuts, or even chickpeas) and raisins. The dressing keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, which should be ample time to get to the fish market.
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Here in Rhode Island, the calendar says Spring, but the thermometer says Not Yet. I drive around looking for places where green might be peeking through, but until a few days ago, lingering patches of ice suppressed most of the crocuses, daffodils and fiddlehead ferns. The rainy, raw weather of early April puts me in the mood for soups like this traditional beef barley. I'm having a lot of fun learning how to use my first-ever electric pressure cooker, which is my new preferred method for making this soup, though I've included directions for making it on the stove. In the pressure cooker, the small chunks of beef and barley cook to perfect tenderness in just ten minutes at high pressure. Thick and chewy beef barley soup, a standard in New York delicatessens, has been a favorite of mine since childhood. This version is better than any you'll find in a deli. I promise.
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