An asparagus and white bean salad recipe garnished with crispy fried cheddar

An asparagus and white bean salad recipe garnished with crispy fried cheddar

Fresh Asparagus With White Beans And Crispy Cheddar

Total time:35 minutes

Servings:2 to 3

Total time:35 minutes

Servings:2 to 3

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If you’ve eaten at a small-plate restaurant in the last decade or two, you may have noticed something: The good ones have a lot of veggies. In fact, I’ve long said that the trend helped chefs break away from their habit of centering protein in the middle of the plate, resulting in creative ingredient combinations—and many more options for vegetarian and vegan dinners.

This same phenomenon plays out for home cooks in Lukas Volger’s new book ‘Snacks for Dinner’. Follower was inspired to write it after a friend took him and his husband for lunch in California, interrupting a journey where they ate one restaurant meal after another and served them a seemingly effortless and casual array of small dishes — a tabbouleh salad. from a local maker, farm-fresh carrots, dips, crackers and more – that became their favorite meal of the trip.

This way of eating is, of course, common in many cultures, from Greek mezze and Korean banchan to the Southern groan board. And as Volger puts it, it’s an ideal way to satisfy plant-based eaters. “You can just have all these different preparations of vegetables,” he told me on a Zoom call from his home in Brooklyn. “That’s what you’re really excited about as a vegetarian.”

One of Follower’s previous books is “bowls”, and I couldn’t help but ponder the connections between a modern cereal bowl, with its multiple components, and the snacks-before-dinner approach, with its multiple plates. In either case, the dishes — or meals — might seem daunting if you’re starting from scratch, but if you get into the habit of moving things forward and aren’t afraid to rely on high-quality, store-bought items, she couldn’t come in faster. be put together. “I see snacks for dinner as a bowl for the dinner table,” he said. “All of these components can come together, and you can adjust to some degree what goes on your plate — or in your bowl.”

Take action with this stack of asparagus recipes and tips

I expect to work my way through Follower’s book and prepare a variety of dishes for friends such as mixed mushroom pie, Brussels sprout chips, nut-and-seed crackers, and chewy tofu strips. But the first thing I made for myself and my husband is this asparagus and white bean salad, a wonderful combination of fresh seasonal ingredients, a pantry staple, and a special touch. The asparagus, fresh from the farmers market, can be left raw, just like watercress. The beans can come from a can — or from your fridge or freezer if you’ve cooked them dry and stored them.

The special touch is a cheddar frico, a flavorful crisp that you make by cooking grated cheese until the oil separates and turns light brown, magically firming up into a disk as it cools. I’d previously only made it from Parmesan or Pecorino and put it in the oven, arranging the grated cheese into small piles that turn into crispy circles, perfect for layering on top of soup. (Or, if you mold them into a cup while they’re still warm, they become a vehicle for appetizer-sized servings of spreads, dressed vegetables, or appetizers of anything else you like.) In this recipe, you make the frico in one large circle. a non-stick skillet and use sharp cheddar, sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, to make a spicy, delectable, crunchy crouton for the fresh vegetable salad.

Whenever possible, I like to offer readers a vegan option. But I was skeptical about whether you could make a frico with vegan cheese chips, which usually contain starch and I doubted the oil would allow the secretion needed to dry out, fry and crisp the cheese. to make. Sure enough, the first time I tried it, the vegan shreds were – literally – unmoved by the heat of the skillet. But all I had to do was drizzle a few tablespoons of oil over the shreds, which melted together, and pour off the excess once the cheese had browned.

The result: a vegan frico with all sides of the dairy texture. I tossed the asparagus, beans, and watercress in a lemon dressing, cracked the frico on top, and served it to my husband with crackers and hummus on the side. It tasted like exactly what I wanted to eat, and had all the ingredients for a seemingly effortless snack-for-dinner party.

Fresh Asparagus With White Beans And Crispy Cheddar

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Storage Notes: Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days, keep the salad (preferably without the dressing) and the frico separately so that everything remains crunchy.

  • 1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese (can substitute vegan cheddar-style cheese shreds plus 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil; see NOTE)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced ​​on a diagonal
  • One (14.5-ounce) cannellini without salt or other white beans, drained and rinsed or 1 1/2 cups cooked
  • 1 cup (1 1/2 ounces) watercress sprigs or baby arugula

Heat a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the cheese in an even layer over the entire surface and season with some ground black pepper. Let the cheese melt and bubble as the oils separate from the solids and the cheese darkens slightly to a light brown color, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cheese cool for a few minutes until crisp. Loosen it from the pan with a thin spatula, place it on a plate and let it cool completely. Break into pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest and juice, honey or agave, and salt. Taste and add more salt and/or honey if necessary.

Taste the asparagus: If you’re working with less fresh asparagus or don’t like the taste of raw, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the asparagus and cook the slices until tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the asparagus, beans, and watercress or arugula. Toss with dressing to coat. Sprinkle with the frico just before serving.

NOTE: If using vegan cheese, drizzle the 2 tablespoons oil over and around the cheese after adding the pepper. It may take a minute or two longer to brown than the milk cheese, depending on the brand. Cook until medium dark brown, then drain the excess oil and let it cool.

Per serving (1 2/3 cups), based on 3

Calories: 417; Total fat: 26 g; Saturated fat: 10 g; Cholesterol: 40mg; Sodium: 646mg; Carbohydrates: 30 g; Dietary fiber: 7 g; sugar: 4 g; Protein: 20 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Snacks for dinner” by Lukas Volger (Harper Wave, 2022).

Tested by Joe Yonan; e-mail questions to [email protected]

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