Hello Friends. As promised, here’s my Easter side dish showstopper.
This year, the ham will have to share the spotlight. Too often, we overlook the side dishes and focus solely on the centerpiece-the meat. In doing so, we miss out on opportunities to create, appreciate and eat magnificent food. Here is a dish that can stand next to your meat or on it’s own.
This dish is also ideal if you or anyone gathered around your table is vegetarian. Looking for a vegan recipe? Simply omit the cheese.
So here it is…the Easter showstopper. This recipe yields 4 individual soufflé ramekins. Of course, it is easy to double or triple for larger audiences.
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tortino
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
8-10 leaves fresh basil
32 red grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half lengthwise
1 oz. scallion stems (approximately 2 stems) sliced into 1/8 inch pieces (discard the root)
12 pitted Kalamata olives
1 bunch (approximately 16 stalks) asparagus (first 2 inches of hard bottom part removed)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch of dry crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon orange bell pepper chopped
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare a bowl of ice water. Once water boils, drop in asparagus and let it cook at rolling boil for one minute (this is called blanching), then shock it by placing into the ice water bath. Leave in ice water until completely cold (approximately 5 minutes). This process prevents the asparagus from overcooking so that it stays al dente, and it also brightens the green color. Once asparagus is cold, drain and slice at a sharp angle into 1 inch long pieces.
In large bowl combine asparagus, garlic, orange zest, lemon zest, basil, tomatoes, scallions, olives, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper, then transfer evenly into the four ramekins. Top with crumbled goat cheese and chopped bell pepper. Place ramekins on baking sheet and cook in preheated oven set at highest temperature. I set my oven on convection at 500. Cook for five minutes or until goat cheese turns golden.
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Buona Pasqua! As always, grazie altrettanto!