The current selection of our Cook the Books Club, the autobiography Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin1, got me thinking about writing about tragedy in one's life, about people that hurt you and about cliché. Sometimes I am told that a certain image or expression is cliché and I realize that my lack of awareness is due to the fact that I did not grow up in the US. On the other hand, I may consider a certain image or expression cliché because I read more than the average person, especially more about food. Beyond my personal speculations on the above topics, I think the writing must shine on its own and the story must draw the reader in. I am afraid that didn't happen for me with this book. However, I am always glad when a reading provides me with material for reflection, so I am grateful this book made it to our pick list.
Martin gives the reader her take on roasted chicken and from her recipe (Orange & Herb Roasted Chicken) I took the suggestion of adding paprika to thyme and rosemary (timo e rosmarino) from my herb garden, which I use to flavor the bird. I also use a Meyer lemon, rather than an orange, but overall, the idea is to use some citrus on the sweet side as aromatic. In terms of cooking temperature and time, I follow my usual recipe, a variation on Thomas Keller's one2.
As a child in Italy, I waited impatiently for April to come around to eat asparagus and strawberries (fragole). Decades later, I am still thrilled when I see the first green spears neatly bunched standing in a little bit of water at farmers' market and grocery stores. I always yield to the temptation. My mother boiled asparagus and served them dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. I roast them.
The recipe I am sharing is the result of a combination of events: I had leftovers asparagus, besides leftovers from the roast chicken described above and I was by myself. The result was so good that I made the salad again the following day, grateful that the chicken3 had been large enough to provide me leftovers for another salad.
If you are vegetarian, substitute the chicken with something that fits your preferences.
Ingredients, for each person (to be multiplied as needed):
- 4 ounces / 113 g roasted chicken, possibly pasture-raised
- 12 medium spears of roasted asparagus (see below for instructions on how to roast asparagus)
- half of a small ripe avocado
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, possibly homemade
- fine sea salt, as needed
- 1 tablespoon sprouted pumpkin seeds (or another lightly crunchy topping)
How to roast asparagus
Heat the oven to 400 F / 205 C. Line a baking sheet large enough to hold the asparagus in one layer with a silicone baking mat.
If necessary, trim the woody ends from the asparagus (I don't usually need this steps for the asparagus I buy). Place the asparagus on the mat and toss with some olive oil, fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then spread in one layer. Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, or until tender to your liking.
Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Store leftover asparagus in the refrigerator for use in the salad. If you don't have leftover asparagus and want to make the salad, roast some ahead of time and let them cool before adding to the other salad ingredients.
How to put together the salad
Dice the chicken. Cut the asparagus into short lengths.
On a serving plate (or in a serving bowl) dice the avocado and mash it with a fork. Add the mayonnaise and mix it to the avocado.
Add the chicken and stir, then add the asparagus and stir well. Taste and add a bit of sea salt, if needed. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top and serve.
This is a delicious way of using leftover chicken and of showcasing asparagus, of one of the season's most flavorful offerings.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the insalata di pollo e asparagi arrosto con avocado audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]