For me nothing says "spring" more so than asparagus. As soon as the warm weather of early spring approaches, I start scouring the farmers' market for the first signs of asparagus. I'm always looking for the most slender green spears, ivory white ones, and even the dark purple-almost-black ones. I appreciate all types of asparagus.
I love asparagus cooked any which way except boiled—that's the reason I hated them so much as a kid because they I only ever had them boiled and overcooked. Even though they're not yet available at my most markets just yet, I've already begun cooking with asparagus. I'm just too eager to wait, so until they're available I won't mind the supermarket ones.
For this recipe I roast the asparagus to bring out their sweet taste. Alongside I also roast cherry tomatoes, which will become one of the many toppings for the dish. The dressing is a vinaigrette made from olives and lots of Dijon mustard. And finally the dish gets flourished with salty, tangy feta. This recipe is great as either an appetizer or a side dish.
Roasted Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes with Crumbled Feta and Green Olive Vinaigrette
1 bunch (about 1-1/2 pounds) asparagus, trimmed
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
1/3 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled feta
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss asparagus with a drizzling of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Separately in a baking dish, toss tomatoes with a drizzling of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast asparagus until tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Roast tomatoes until their skins pop, about 15 to 20 minutes.
While vegetables roast, prepare the vinaigrette. Add shallot to a small bowl and pour over with 2 tablespoons vinegar. Let macerate for about 5 minutes and strain. Add remaining vinegar and Dijon mustard. Whisk in olive oil until an emulsion forms. Stir in chopped olives.
Arrange asparagus on a large platter. Drizzle over with half the vinaigrette. Top with tomatoes and drizzle over remaining vinaigrette. Scatter over with crumbled feta. Yield: 4 servings.