Chilled Asparagus With Marinated Roasted Pepper Topping
|Roasted red bell peppers||2 , sliced (skinned)|
|Capers||1 Tablespoon (drained)|
|Red onion||1 Small, sliced into thin strips|
|Balsamic vinegar||To Taste|
|Tender young asparagus||3 Pound, blanched and chilled|
|Garbanzo beans canned||10 1⁄2 Ounce, rinsed and well drained (chickpeas)|
|Italian chunk light tuna canned||24 1⁄2 Ounce, drained and flaked with a fork-not mashed (packed in olive oil)|
|Drained capers||1⁄3 Cup (5.33 tbs)|
|Scallion vinaigrette||1 Tablespoon|
|Extra virgin olive oil||1 Cup (16 tbs)|
|Red wine vinegar||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Dijon mustard||1 Tablespoon (rounded)|
|Salt||1 Teaspoon (use less salt if desired)|
|Freshly ground black pepper||To Taste (Generous twist)|
|Minced scallions||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs), trimmed white parts and 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the tender green (green onions)|
|Garlic||2 Clove (10 gm), minced|
|Crumbled dried oregano||1 Teaspoon|
1) To flavor the peppers: Toss the sliced roasted peppers with between 1/4 and 1/3 cup olive oil, minced garlic, capers and olives. Two hours before serving, add the basil, onions and the balsamic vinegar.
2) To assemble the dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a jar or a bowl and shake well or whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If made in advance and very chilled, let the dressing sit out of the refrigerator to release its full flavor, before serving.
3) To assemble the platter and serve: Lay 9 thin or 6 thick blanched asparagus spears on individual serving plates with the tips facing in the same direction. Stir vinaigrette and ladle some over the asparagus. Lay some of the pepper strips on top along with a few garbanzo beans. Ladle on a bit more dressing, top with some flaked tuna and, if desired, scatter some capers over top. Serve and pass additional dressing at the table along with some balsamic vinegar to drizzle on top. Be sure to have a reliable peppermill at the table.
Timing is Everything:
• Up to 3 days ahead of time, you may blanch your asparagus, roast and marinate your peppers and prepare your vinaigrette. Store all, well covered, in the refrigerator.
How to blanch asparagus:
In order to retain its firm texture and bright green color, asparagus should be cooked quickly and served immediately or blanched (briefly boiled and then quickly refreshed in ice water to stop the cooking process). An eight-quart blanching pot with a built-in strainer is extremely useful but not essential. Blanched asparagus may be served chilled or finished up to three days later by baking or sautéing.
To prepare asparagus for cooking: Wash asparagus and trim off the woody ends using a sharp knife or snap off the tough fibrous bottom. Although unnecessary, you may use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin of each asparagus starting 2 inches below the flowerette in a firm but gentle downward motion. Peeling is not advised in young, delicate asparagus. Separate asparagus into 2 or 3 bunches and tie each bunch twice, 2 inches apart, with kitchen twine.
To blanch asparagus: Bring a large pot of water to boil and set a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Lightly salt boiling water and lower asparagus bundles into pot. The cooking time will be determined by the age, thickness and ultimate use of the asparagus. To serve chilled, cook until tender but al dente (slightly firm to the tooth, 4 to 8 minutes, checking after 4 minutes. If blanching to finish later, cook until stalks are softened but not yet tender, 3 to 6 minutes, checking after 3 minutes. In either case, immediately lift asparagus out of the boiling water and plunge into the bowl of ice water. (To lift bundles if not using a blanching pot, insert one of the prongs of a long kitchen fork under one of the strings that secure each bunch.) When asparagus is cold to the touch, remove from the ice water, lay on paper toweling and snip off the strings in order to drain properly. Gently pat dry and either use now or roll up carefully in paper towel and place into a heavy plastic bag. Seal and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.