It’s been exactly one month since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11th. One month ago, no one would have guessed that at 2:46pm, approximately 2 minutes of violent shaking would change everything. For some, their entire lives have been swept away. For others, daily life continues with a sense of confidence. Although, with each aftershock, the quiet nervousness returns. I have such admiration for the people of Japan after seeing just how much inner strength they have. While I am nowhere near as strong, witnessing their ability to live each day with a little more grace has been encouraging.
Blogging has proven to be difficult for me over the past few weeks. There has been a lot going on, aside from the whole earthquake thing, that has kept me from doing much cooking or photographing. The more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became. Nothing seemed to inspire me and I just couldn’t get over the writer’s block that had been crowding my brain. With some great advice from fellow writers on Twitter, it seems I’ve mostly broken through the brick wall. I’ve learned through watching the Japanese people continue as best they can with their daily lives that this is part of the healing process.
This simple asparagus salad was a great place to start. The bright green and yellow colors are fresh and vibrant; perfect for a clean start to a new month. The beautiful, clean flavor of the asparagus (which is in season in parts of the U.S. right now) with the gentle citrus flavor of Meyer lemon are perfectly contrasted with crispy shallots.
I hope the simple beauty of this salad is a precursor of good things to come in April. What are some of your favorite feel-good meals for spring?
Asparagus Salad with Meyer Lemon & Crispy Shallots
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side
* If you can’t find Meyer lemon, you can use regular lemon but it will be more tart. Add a touch of olive oil to the lemon juice to mellow the flavor. Meyer lemon is best to use because it is a milder flavor to eat on its own, but you can make regular lemons work too.
1 lb fresh asparagus
2 Meyer lemons (1 for the juice and the other to slice for garnish)
2-3 medium shallots (about 1/2 up sliced)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. When the water comes to a boil, add a generous tablespoon of salt to the water. While the water is heating, break off the woody ends of the asparagus. Next, cut the asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces. Prepare an ice bath and place it close to the stove top.
Add the asparagus to the boiling, salted water and allow to blanch for 1 minute or until the asparagus have become bright green. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the asparagus to the ice bath to cool. Strain the asparagus and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and set aside.
In a medium heavy pan, melt the butter. Add the sliced shallots and cook over medium-high heat until they are golden and crispy, about 10-15 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn and turn bitter. Remove the shallots from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer them to paper towel lined plate.
Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter and garnish with the sliced Meyer lemon and top with the crispy shallots.