Shallot-Fried Asparagus Farro Salad + Basil Pesto
To put it frankly April sucked, it sucked a whole lot of sucking. If you follow me on instagram you might have heard that I hurt my back. Not only did I hurt my back I hurt it badly, I apparently bulged a disc in my lower back. Not a very fun injury.
It was really quite silly too, I was playing with Solomon (our 80 pound rottie) and as we were goofing around I bent down to pick him up and instantly felt the sharpest pain hit my back and go down my leg and I was hardly able to get up. At first I thought maybe I had pulled a muscle but after a few days of being in extreme pain, not being able to sit, not being able to bend and not being able to stand for very long I went to my doctor.
Long story short, I have been off work for a month, going a little crazy and feeling completely depilated. Physio and acupuncture so far have been my saviours, but really it is just time and healing my body needs to do on its own. Lesson learned, don’t try and pick up an 80-pound puppy.
I have never quite experienced pain like this before, it completely stopped me in my tracks, for the first three I couldn’t bend an inch in front of me , I couldn’t even put on pants without tears. This week I have finally started to have some relief and as I said earlier I think that comes from physio, acupuncture, rest, rest and more rest. Funny enough walking gave me the most relief, so I was able to get out around the neighbourhood for little strolls.
But this was not even the worst of my April, on the 30th of last month our sweet kitty Chai was hit by a car and passed away. It was and still is completely devastating, my heart is beyond crushed and still now I can hardly believe he is gone. He wasn’t just a cat to Paul and I, he was what made us a family. He brought us so much joy and laughter and love it is almost unimaginable. For such a little guy he truly made our house so much more special. My heart breaks for him, he was only two years old, he had so many years to go.
Paul, Solomon and I have been each other’s rocks through this all. I am truly so extremely lucky to have them in my life and honestly I fall more in love with both every single day. I couldn’t ask for a more caring, generous, understanding, loving partner than Paul, he makes my world infinitely better. Solomon has barely left my side, and has quite literally licked my tears away. I know he misses Chai and the antics he would play on him, swatting him as he came strolling around a corner, or biting him in the face as he walked by a table. He will forever be missed and never forgotten.
Asparagus season has just arrived here on the west coast and it is abundantly delicious. Last week we picked a bundle up from a farmer stand on the side of an old country road, freshly picked and organically grown. Really I think that is the only way produce should be eaten. We try to eat local, organic and in season as much as possible and the taste truly does not compare. I am not even sure you have tasted the true taste of something until you have had it fresh from the garden without any pesticides or other nasty’s hanging about on it.
Really it does not cost that much more to eat this way, maybe you enjoy your morning cup of coffee at home instead of buying it out, it is really little things that you can change to allow yourself to splurge (I don’t even think it is splurging) on foods that are actually good for your body. We only have one life and one body it should be treated with as much respect and love as you can give it.
This salad is bursting with flavours and each one really does shine through, from the lemony, basil pesto to the shallot-fried asparagus, to the roasted pine nuts and the shaved asiago cheese. It does not disappoint, it is also the perfect salad for spring and summer picnics or hot days when you don’t feel like cooking or eating, it is simple to whip up and doesn’t leave you feeling heavy.
The pesto is the true winner here though. With accents of garlic, lemon, basil, almonds and the secret ingredient nutritional yeast you will be pouring this on everything. I blend it in a food processor instead of using a mortar and pestle so it is a bit more like a dressing than a true grinded pesto. It is amazing on a leafy lettuce salad or tossed with some grilled veggies, even in morning omelettes. It is so versatile and will work with almost anything, maybe just not desserts!
shallot-fried asparagus farro salad + basil pesto
1 cup of farro
3 cups of water
12 stalks of asparagus
1 large shallot
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbsp of fresh oregano, chopped
1 large lemon thinly sliced
salt and pepper for seasoning
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese + extra shaved pieces
2-3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
4 cloves of garlic
1 large bunch of basil (about one cup packed tightly)
the juice of one lemon
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of pepper
In a medium pot add the farro and water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes until cooked. Set aside
Heat a small sized sauce pan on medium heat and add the pine nuts. Toast until just browned, watch this very closely as nuts burn quickly. Set aside.
Add all of the pesto ingredients into a food processor and blend until thick and creamy (don't over blend it, the almonds won't be completely smooth, but they give it a nice crunch). This recipe make extra pesto but it should keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks (although ours has never lasted the latter).
Finely mince a shallot and in a sauce pan on medium heat add the olive oil and butter. Once hot add in the shallot and fry for about a minute or two or until it browns, then add in the asparagus stalks and fry for 5-8 minutes. Until tender but not over cooked.
Once the asparagus is done, place the stalks on a plate and in a large bowl add the farro, buttery fried shallots, 1/3 of a cup of the pesto and toasted pine nuts. Toss until everything is coated with the pesto and place the mixture on a large plate, top with the asparagus, extra shaved asiago, finely chopped oregano and lemon slices, season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or cold.