|Warm Asparagus Salad with Toasted Almonds, Feta and Black Olives|
My first experience with Greek dining took place on Halsted Street in Chicago's Greektown when I was barely out of my teens. My friends and I joined a line of eager diners waiting to be seated on a balmy September Saturday night. The line stretched down the street, but waiters brought appetizers outside to tempt us. Inside, amidst cries of "Opa!" we were served flaming saganaki. I ordered moussaka, which I still love, and we ended the meal with a heavenly baklava while the owner danced for us.
Later I lived two doors from a Greek restaurant in downtown Madison, Wis.; it was a convenient place to meet friends for a late-night glass of retsina and not worry too much about teetering home at closing time. I learned to love gyros and filled my apartment with Greek vases from a specialty store on State Street.
Living back in the northern hinterlands of Wisconsin many years later, I no longer have easy access to Greek restaurants or food. My only option is to cobble something together myself. My husband makes a dish he calls Greek Chicken, but I have not yet attempted to make Pastitsio, Dolmades or even spinach pie.
For me, any non-holiday meal begins with a quick survey of the contents of my refrigerator. I like to use what's on hand, as you know, and save my money for travel.
But when you've got feta, olives and spinach on hand, it seems reasonable and prudent to make something with a touch of Greece, so...
Greek-Inspired Warm Asparagus Salad with Toasted Almonds, Feta and Black Olives (one serving)
For the garnish:
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 small clove fresh garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
- 1 hard boiled egg, chopped
For the asparagus:
- 18 spears fresh asparagus, roasted
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- dash lemon pepper seasoning
Making the hard-boiled egg and chopping onion in advance, and using pre-sliced olives and almonds makes this a fairly speedy dish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
While the oven is heating, prepare garnish, chopping onions and garlic.
Prepare asparagus and coat with olive oil in shallow baking ban. Sprinkle herbs, salt and lemon pepper seasoning, and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, checking frequently. After about 10 minutes, shake the pan or use a heat-proof spatula to ensure even roasting. When the asparagus begins to brown, remove from oven.
While the asparagus is roasting, pour olive oil in medium-size skillet, adding onions and garlic. After about five minutes add spinach and almonds and drizzle with lemon juice.
Next, chop egg, prepare olives and measure feta cheese. When asparagus has finished roasting, arrange on plate with onions, garlic, almonds and spinach. Top with egg, olives and feta cheese.
I used a pomegranate balsamic vinegar as a dressing. I think the salad would taste great with mayo-based, honey-mustard dressing, too.
This would be excellent with roasted chicken or leftover lamb or ham from Easter.
Double or triple the ingredients to serve more people. My husband made himself a sandwich for lunch, so my warm asparagus salad was just for me.