Red Butter Lettuce and Roasted Asparagus Salad

Red Butter Lettuce
I heard cardinals singing their spring song on Friday, proof that it may still be winter, but that spring will someday arrive. I thought of this light salad from 2007:

I once read that the hallmark of a good French cook is the ability to improvise, to take random ingredients and toss together a credible meal.

I have always prided myself on this, on not relying solely on recipes but preparing meals by instinct.

Tonight, I found red leaf butter lettuce at the supermarket. Not only is it lovely to look at, with delicate spring green leaves tinged with pink and rose, it has a mild flavor. It is a good source of vitamin K, pro-vitamin A and folic acid.

I thought it would be the perfect foil for green onions, roasted asparagus and goat cheese.

It was.

Red Butter Lettuce Salad with Roasted Asparagus (serves two)

  • 2 cups red butter lettuce, torn
  • 10-12 spears asparagus
  • 1/2 cup blanched almond slivers
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 6 small radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425.

Wash and prepare lettuce. Set aside.

Drench asparagus and almonds in olive oil. Place in a shallow pan and roast for about 5-8 minutes. Prepare onions, radish and goat cheese.

Place asparagus and almonds on lettuce. Add radishes, onions and goat cheese.

I recommend a simple oil and vinegar dressing. The raspberry vinaigrette was too flavorful for this delicate salad.

Spring is in the air this week. The sun is higher in the sky and the light is broad. The mourning doves came back to my yard two weeks ago and there was a downy woodpecker in my chestnut tree this morning. A red fox crossed the road in front of my car, perhaps in search of a mate.

Yes, it’s nearly spring.


Lydia said…
That is one beautiful head of lettuce! Though we got hit with our first real (and really beautiful) snowstorm of the year yesterday, I know that the farm-fresh asparagus are only six weeks away. Nothing says spring more than asparagus!
That really is a spectaular head of butter leaf! The salad sounds lovely and your words certainly picture spring. Love the fox!
Mimi said…
Yes, asparagus and strawberries, Lydia.

I wish it were truly fresh. I'm sorry about your storm — our snow, feet high just 10 days ago, is nealry gone.

We know it's spring, Tanna, when foxes and turkeys come into town. Although, a few years back we had a fox in our neighborhood at Christmas.
Mary said…
That head of lettuce is gorgeous. I was just starting to think of lovely spring salads, but we got hit with feet and feet of snow yesterday. I think we'll be sticking to soups and stews for a few days yet. Luckily I stocked up.
Mimi said…
I am so sorry about that storm, Mary. We got socked a few weeks bak for the first time. Stew sounds good today here, too, because it is not all that warm.
Kalyn said…
Very yummy looking. I love butter lettuce, but I don't think I've seen the red type. I'll watch for it. I'm definitely craving some salads. (And goat cheese, yes!)
Mimi said…
Love that stuff, Kalyn!

I'm on my way over to your kitchen to find an SBD tuna recipe now...
Katie said…
Often, simple is best.
Your salad looks simply perfect!
I'm going to plant some lettuce sets next week....Salads!
Mimi said…
I'm on a salad binge, Katie - happens every spring.
Betty C. said…
This has become my cooking style over the years. Take an ingredient and see what I can get going with it...I like to look over recipes for inspiration, but rarely follow them. I think that's called knowing how to cook!
Mimi said…
Same here, Betty. I just tossed together tuna, tomatoes, cilantro, chevre and green onions for lunch - just as good as any recipe.

Of course, I've never been a slavish devotée of any rules...
FarmgirlCyn said…
Spring is springing here, too! Saw my first robin of the season yesterday, and the bluebird couples are vying for the nesting boxes with all their might!
I am always using a big variety of lettuce...but pretty much stay away from my mom's old stand-by...iceburg. Tho, I have to admit, when i am making tacos, nothing but crunchy iceburg will suffice!
Salads are good any time of the year, but especially after a long winter.
Mimi said…
Cyn, I rarely see bluebirds here. But the cardinals are doing their turf calls and it's only a matter of time before we see and hear redwing blackbirds.

Yes, you crave fresh things now.
Christine said…
That's such a gorgeous photo Mimi!
I've had salad two nights running now and another one in mind for tonight.
Got the first organic strawberries sitting in the fridge too. The box of bisquick is calling to them! :))
Mimi said…
Christine, I was delighted to see that one of our local stores is offering more organics these days. I've yet to see organic strawberries though — I hope that will be next.
Terry B said…
Exactly this kind of improvisational cooking is what excites me most about cooking these days. Beautiful photography too, Mimi.

Spring is definitely in the air, but for us city folk here in Chicago, the signs are slightly different. Last weekend, we drove over to the Uptown Theater and saw that the pair of Peregrine falcons that nest on its fire escape had returned. They nest there every year, and the people in the neighborhood take a lot of protective pride in them.
Mimi said…
How charming, Terry!

I hear a sandhill crane flying overhead the other day. We miss those sounds in winter. And of course, Canada geese abound.

Yes, improv cooking is more fun than following the roles, for me, anyway.
Anonymous said…
Looks really tasty and healthy Mimi.
Mimi said…
It really tasted like spring, too, Anne.

Sometimes the best meals are tossed together, last minute. I've said that before; I guess it's one of my themes.
Fiona said…
There's nothing nicer than plucking your own lettuce out of the garden in the summer time. I used to grow these "Butter" variety, or something very similar. You can actually pick the leaves as you need them while the plant is still growing.

Can I come and eat at your place Mimi ? I would love to sit down to one of your creations after a long hard day at work.
Mimi said…
Fi, I would cook for you anytime.

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