Keys to Making Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans

 

A Sign of Spring

One of the first signs of spring at the grocery store is the arrival of fresh, tender asparagus! Asparagus is a tasty vegetable that can be enjoyed raw or cooked and prepared in a variety of ways. In today’s post, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite asparagus recipes – Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans.

Asparagus contains many good-for-you nutrients. Asparagus is a good source of folate, vitamins A, C, E, and K, chromium and fiber. Antioxidants are also found in asparagus. Asparagus may help prevent certain forms of cancer as it contains glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens.


Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans features asparagus that is marinated in olive oil, low-sodium soy sauce, sugar and cider vinegar. Immersing food in a marinade for a period of time is a great way to give vegetables (as well as meats) a flavor boost. Adding flavor intensifiers to our food enhances the taste, which is important to people over 60 who have experienced some loss of the taste sensation.

For easy clean-up perhaps the best way to use a marinade is to place the food to be marinated into a zip-top plastic bag. The bag can be turned over and over until all the food is coated well. Marinated foods are placed in the refrigerator for a time specified in the recipe.  Refrigeration inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in the food that is being marinated.

Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans is one of those recipes that I characterize as “company-worthy” and everyone I’ve served it to has really enjoyed it.

The Recipe for Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans

Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans
A wonderful chilled salad with marinated asparagus and pecans.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
  2. 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  3. 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  4. 2 tablespoons sugar
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, bring 3 cups water to a boil.
  2. Add asparagus and boil for 3 minutes.
  3. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water.
  4. Drain and pat dry.
  5. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the cider vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and olive oil.
  6. Add the asparagus, seal the bag, and turn several times to coat the asparagus.
  7. Refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
  8. Drain and discard marinade.
  9. Sprinkle asparagus with pecans.
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The Methodology

Key #1 – When preparing asparagus, wash it off by rinsing it with water. Snap the ends of the asparagus off, by just holding it with both hands and bending it until it snaps. This part of the asparagus spear is usually too woody and fibrous to eat.

Key #2 – Next, bring water to a boil in a large skillet. The asparagus is added to the skillet and boiled for 3 minutes.

Key #3 – Remove the asparagus from the boiling water and immediately plunge it into ice water.

Key #4 – Then, drain the asparagus on a paper towel and pat dry.

Key #5 – In a large resealable plastic bag, combine cider vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and olive oil. Add the asparagus, seal the bag, and turn several times to coat the asparagus well. Refrigerate the asparagus in the marinade for up to 3 hours.

Key # 6 – Drain and discard the marinade. Plate the asparagus and sprinkle pecans over it. Enjoy a serving of Fresh Asparagus Salad with Pecans!

If you’re ready for spring, prepare some asparagus soon! If spring is still far off in your part of the country, have some asparagus and spring won’t seem so far away!

Remember to savor the flavor of asparagus!


By the way, our first crocus appeared recently. Here’s a photo so you can enjoy it with me!

Blessings,

Janet

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas make a nice lunch or snack that is relatively quick and easy to prepare. Without meat, Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas are great for “Meatless Mondays” or any day that you would like to skip the meat!

As I discussed in a previous post, Meatless Meals 1 / Love Those Veggies, meatless meals are built around vegetables, grains, beans and nuts instead of meat. Certain health benefits may be derived from eating less meat and more vegetables. The risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity may be reduced by eating less meat and more vegetables. Also, there is no cholesterol in plant-based foods.

Sweet potatoes contain some great nutrients such as beta carotene, Vitamin A, fiber, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and blood sugar regulating nutrients. Beta carotene is a strongly colored red-orange pigment abundant in fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene is a well-known antioxidant and eating a diet rich in beta carotene is an excellent health recommendation.


Black beans have a dense, meaty texture which makes them popular in many vegetarian dishes and especially popular in Latin American cuisine. Black beans contain protein, antioxidants, many minerals and they are high in fiber. Black beans help keep blood sugar levels stable also.

The Recipe

Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas
Yields 4
A quick and easy way to have a meatless meal, featuring sweet potatoes and black beans.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium Sweet Potatoes
  2. 4 Whole Wheat Tortillas (8-inch)
  3. 3/4 cup canned Black Beans, rinsed & drained
  4. 1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack or Mozzarella Cheese
  5. 3/4 cup Salsa
  6. 3 tablespoons Butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Pierce sweet potatoes several times with a fork. Microwave, uncovered, on high 7-9 minutes or until very tender.
  2. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato lengthwise in half. Scoop out pulp.
  3. Spread pulp on one half of each tortilla; top with beans and cheese.
  4. Fold other half of tortilla over filling.
  5. Heat a griddle, grill or skillet over medium heat.
  6. Brush butter on tortilla and place on griddle buttered-side down, being careful not to spill the contents.
  7. Brush butter on top side of tortilla.
  8. Cook several minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.
  9. Serve with salsa.
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 The Methodology

To begin making Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas, first cook the sweet potatoes. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork several times (so they don’t explode!) and microwave them on high for 7-9 minutes, until soft. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool for a few minutes, then cut them lengthwise and scoop out the sweet potato pulp. Mash the sweet potato pulp with a fork until smooth.

Next, spread the mashed sweet potato on half of each whole wheat tortilla.

Then top the sweet potato layer with some black beans.

Top the black beans with some shredded cheese.

Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the filling.

Brush melted butter over the folded tortilla and place buttered side down on a grill pan, electric griddle or grill or a skillet on medium heat, taking care not to spill the contents. Brush melted butter on the top side of the folded tortilla.

Cook several minutes on each side until the Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas are golden brown and the cheese is melted. Cut into smaller pieces and serve with salsa.

Tasty Tip: I found it easy to cut the Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas using a pizza cutter!

Planning some meatless meals into your weekly menu plan helps keep the food budget in line. I enjoyed Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas because they contain two of my favorite ingredients – sweet potatoes and black beans! I hope you’ll try adding a few meatless meals to your weekly routine – you’ll be aiding your health and your budget too!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!

Janet

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