Roasted Asparagus, Avocado and Arugula Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

Asparagus, Avocado & Arugula SaladThis is a gorgeous green salad that will serve 6 easily. You can also substitute the arugula for baby spinach or baby kale. If you’re having a dairy meal, try shaving some strips of parmesan over this salad for a finishing touch!

Ingredients:

⅓ cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel**
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar (you can substitute with red or white wine vinegar)
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound slender asparagus, tough ends trimmed*
6 cups (lightly packed) arugula (about 5 ounces)*
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives*
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ripe avocado
⅓ cup pine nuts or hazelnuts (optional)

* Click here to learn about cleaning asparagus, arugula and chives.
** Click here for my tips on zesting lemons.

Directions:

Whisk first 5 in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. If you would like to make this ahead of time, it can be done a day in advance. Just cover and chill, then let stand at room temperature 30 minutes and re-whisk before using.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place asparagus spears on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle ¼ cup vinaigrette over and turn to coat, then spread in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast asparagus until just crisp-tender, about 12-15 minutes.

While the asparagus is cooking, place the pine nuts into a small skillet over medium heat and toast them for a few minutes till they turn golden brown and aromatic. Be careful, stir constantly, and keep a close eye once they start to brown—they can go from brown to burned very quickly. Once they’ve turned golden, pour them into a small bowl and reserve.

When the asparagus has finished cooking, remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Cut each stalk into 4-5 pieces each. Discard any overly tough ends that did not get tender during roasting. Cut the avocado into small cubes.

Combine arugula, chives, avocado and asparagus in large bowl. Add remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat. Transfer salad to platter; sprinkle with salt, pepper and toasted nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tre Formaggio Arancini (Three Cheese Rice Balls)

Arancini

This recipe may seem a little labour intensive, but trust me, the end result is worth it!! Of course, it’s always easier if you just happen to have left over risotto sitting around your kitchen :). For those of us that don’t though, you’ll find this a very easy recipe as it does not involve the time consuming process that a regular risotto does. Buon appetito!

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
½ cup shredded fontina cheese (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups breadcrumbs, divided
vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

Bring the broth and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice, garlic and onion, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool completely (if you’re in a hurry, try sticking the sheet in the fridge or freezer!). Combine the pine nuts, mozzarella, fontina and parsley in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the cooled rice mixture, the parmesan and ⅔ cup of the breadcrumbs. Shape the mixture into sixteen 1 ½ -inch balls. Put the remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Press your finger into the centre of each rice ball, and insert 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture, then pinch the rice around the filling to seal. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate, at least 1 hour or overnight. (If refrigerating overnight, roll in more breadcrumbs before frying). Heat ½ inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; season with salt. Enjoy hot with marinara sauce or plain!

Dates – תמרים

Date in Hebrew is תמרים related to the word תם—to end, and so on that note we make the following request when eating this symbolic date:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

So having this in mind, here are two recipes for how to serve up your war-ending dates this year!

Dolci Datteri

Dolci Datteri – Sweet Stuffed Dates

Makes 24 dates

Ingredients:

24 pitted dates
½ cup chopped, toasted pine nuts (or nut of your choice)
6 tablespoons red wine
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
½ cup honey

Directions:

Stuff dates with chopped nuts in the empty cavity left by removing the pit. Place the dates in a medium sized sauté pan. Sprinkle with pepper if desired. Add wine, and then drizzle honey over the dates. Cook over a medium heat until the skins begin to peel off the fruit. Transfer the dates to a serving dish, and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Angels on Camels

Devils on Horseback – Angels on Camels?

This recipe originally called for the use of bacon, but I’ve switched it up with the use of deli meat instead, and re-named them Angels on Camels rather than Devils!

Makes 20 dates

Ingredients:

20 wooden toothpicks
¼ cup reduced-sodium or regular soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup brown sugar
20 dates, pitted
20 whole smoked or roasted almonds
10 thin slices of turkey or beef pastrami, cut in half to make strips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Soak the toothpicks in a bowl of water (so they don’t burn in the oven). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and ginger. In a separate shallow bowl place the brown sugar. Spread open the pitted date, and stuff each one with an almond. Wrap a strip of the pastrami around the date and then secure in place with a toothpick. Dip the bundle in the soy mixture and then into the brown sugar, and then place on the prepared baking dish. Repeat this process with each of the dates. If desired, sprinkle a little more brown sugar over all of the bundles. Bake in the preheated oven until the pastrami is brown and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving; serve warm or at room temperature.