**This is not a gluten-free recipe and was posted before I eliminated gluten from my diet. However, gluten-free grains such as rice, millet, or quinoa could easily be substituted in this salad.**
My CSA finally started and I couldn't be happier! The whole concept of a CSA is that you pay up front for a share of a farm's produce for the season (but see Julia's more detailed description). In my case, I'll get stuff every other week from mid-June through October. I signed up for this smaller share because it will allow me to also buy things from other farms at the farmers' markets (which I look forward to every week). This is my first year signing up for a CSA, and I'm especially excited to get creative with the things that I get every other week. Although my CSA does give some choice in which items you get (they usually let you pick a set number of the possible items that they have that week... say 8 out of 12), I will still be getting new ingredients and finding new ways to use them.
This week I came home with several things, but was most excited about the strawberries. I received an email before I picked up my share about what would likely be included, but they didn't mention strawberries because they didn't want to get everybody's hopes up in case they didn't have them in time. My eyes definitely lit up when I saw them on the table, though! I had already purchased 2 quarts at the market over the weekend, but those were almost gone after making various desserts, and besides that, one can never have enough strawberries.
So, it was time to get creative. I also had some asparagus that I picked up at the market over the weekend, and decided to combine my two favorite spring crops into a dish (hey, what grows together goes together, right?).
Spelt berry, asparagus, and strawberry salad
3/4 pound asparagus, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cups cooked spelt berries (for cooking instructions and more info on spelt berries, see my post on wheat, Kamut, and spelt berries)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
juice of half lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
Toss the asparagus pieces with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet, and roast at 400 until pieces are tender (about 10 min). Toss asparagus, spelt berries, remaining oil, vinegar, and lemon juice together, and season with salt and pepper. Top with strawberries and parmesan. Serves 4-5.
I really enjoyed this, and thought that the "greenness" of the asparagus and the sweet, but slightly tart, strawberries fit well together. And the hint of sweetness from the spelt blended nicely with both of them. My favorite part was the diversity of textures, though. The spelt was very chewy, while the asparagus still had a nice crunch, and the strawberries melted away in my mouth. It was quite fun to eat!
This was a great blend of fresh produce and whole grains, which is probably my favorite type of dish, and one of the healthiest! So, I'm submitting this to The Heart of the Matter, a blogging event emphasizing heart-healthy foods. This month's theme is The Best of June's Produce, which sounds perfect for this dish. Also, be on the lookout for my recap every other week about what I did with all of my CSA ingredients as part of the Cooking Away My CSA challenge. I'm excited to try new things this summer, and I've got a few things up my sleeve for later in the week (here's hoping that they work!).