Avocado, Arugula, Asparagus – three of my favorite, green veggies begin with my favorite letter, A. Coincidence? Not sure. Good eats? Most assuredly!
Asparagus has always been an enjoyable go-to green thanks in large part to how simple it is to cook but mostly for its crave-able crunch & bright taste. I imagine if Spring had a flavor it would taste like the sweet freshness of asparagus. Apparently my love for asparagus is nothing new for the stalky plant which has been considered a delicacy since ancient times. Asparagus boasts anit-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits along with digestive support and even anti-cancer benefits! (More about these benefits on World’s Healthiest Foods)
Arugula is a green I’ve been in love with since first bite. We’ve had one of those magical relationships you are promised to have with a prince when you’re a little girl playing princess: reliable, exciting and always evolving. Hot or cold, no matter how I’ve experimented with Arugula, it has always understood what I’m trying to accomplished and lent its peppery complexity to the dish. Nutrition and You lists excellent sources of Vitamins A (yay for the letter of the month), C and K in the green and, since K helps in limiting neurological damage, eating Arugula isn’t only enjoyable, it’s smart!
Avocado and I have had a rocky relationship. I live by the Andrew Zimmern adage to take more than one bite of something, you might like it more the second time. So I would try, try again with avocado, but each time my gag reflex was stronger than my pleasure receptors. I never gave up though and one evening after many New Orleans’ daytime libations I
stumbled walked into El Gato Negro with my sister-in-law and her family. When guacamole (yucky-mole is what I used to call it) was ordered instead of queso, I almost cried. I sadly nibbled on a chip till my hunger overcame me and I dove in. Light bulbs of realization flashed in my head as I finally experienced the rich, fatty unctuousness that drives people to put avocado on every thing! The good fats finally tasted good to me and now I top my lunches with it and mix it in my soups. I will put this heart healthy, cholesterol lowering, Vitamin E powerhouse on almost anything.
One night I found myself with no plan for dinner and all three of these veggies in my fridge. Dinner salad became an excellent idea and the Triple Threat Green Salad was born. I have since made this salad with many variations. Here is my way of putting it all together:
Triple Threat Green Salad:
- 1 bunch of green asparagus (they come in white and purple varieties too)
- 1 container of arugula (I prefer organic) large enough for the number and size of salads you want to make
- 1-4 ripe avocados depending on size of the avocado and number of salads you are making
- 1 bag of microwave steam-able corn
- 1 container of miniature Portobello or button mushrooms
- All purpose or Cajun spice mix
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 cup non-fat half & half *optional*
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil and light margarine as needed
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Follow instructions on microwave steam-able corn to heat (I prefer to cook it about a minute shy of the recommended cooking time because I will be heating the corn more after).
- Prep Asparagus – rinse and chop. *A trick to chopping asparagus: Choose a stalk of an average size for the bunch and grasp with fingers on each end. Gently bend the stalk till it snaps. The “top” half of the asparagus is the tender part. Use this piece to measure how much to trim off the bottom of the remainder of the bunch. Discard the bottoms and cut the stalks into 1″ pieces.
- Prep mushrooms – Since mushrooms grow in dirt, there is typically some left on them and in the packaging. Dampen a paper towel and gently wipe down each mushroom to remove dirt. Slice or quarter mushrooms (I prefer them quartered because I like a meaty bite of ‘shroom). 😉
- Place chopped asparagus and mushrooms onto a baking sheet.
- Drizzle EVOO liberally onto the vegetables, tossing to coat evenly.
- Salt & pepper to taste. (I find fresh, cracked black pepper to be best).
- Place tray of veggies in oven to bake for 10 minutes, flipping veggies halfway through for even cooking.
- Melt a teaspoon of light margarine in a saute pan on medium high and add corn, sauteing for 3 minutes. Add all-purpose or Cajun seasoning to taste.
- If you choose to cream the corn slightly, add the half-and-half and cook for 5 more mins to reduce.
- Cube or slice the avocado. Don’t know how? Learn how to slice from Epicurious! For cubed, just cut the slices.
- Rinse & dry arugula and place in on serving dish. Top with roasted asparagus, mushrooms, corn and avocado.
- Drizzle with EVOO. Salt & pepper to taste.
The very best part of this salad, besides it’s taste and textures, is its versatility. TTGS makes a great base for leftover meat or seafood. You can easily fancy up the dish by using shiitake mushrooms. If company is coming, make the salad as a starter or stretch your entertaining budget by making it the main dish. Top with inexpensive Flank Steak and fan the avocado slices on top of each salad for a lovely presentation.
Here’s my “fancy” shiitake and left-over steak variation. I made this for myself, but if I was serving it at a dinner party I would fan the steak and avocado as suggested. Sauteing the mushrooms in truffle oil is another way to up the gourmet factor!
My recipe calls for roasting the asparagus and mushrooms in the oven for easy cooking. If you don’t have an oven available or prefer to do your cooking on the stove top, remember you can always saute the asparagus and mushrooms til tender, rather than roasting!
So give this nutritious, versatile and tasty salad a whirl and be sure to comment your thoughts and variations. Or email me a picture of your creation for use in a future post!
Euphorically Enjoy Eating!