Vegetarian pescaterian month is in full swing; in fact, I have officially made it halfway through a meatless month! I won’t go as far as to say it’s been easy, but I am alive. I’ve got a vegetarian feast planned for the end of the month as a celebration and a bon voyage to days without pork shoulder, veal chops, and steak. So no, I have not had some weird epiphany that cows should roam freely instead of being branded, slaughtered, and sold to the butcher at the store. Therefore, the week following, which just happens to be the weekend of our 4 year wedding anniversary (4!! years!!), I’m thinking meatfest is warranted, unless Hubs has other dinner plans in his bottomless bag of tricks.
That said, “market season” finally coming to fruition could not have come at a better time than this past weekend. Green City Market shed it’s cement floors and heat lamps and sashayed on down to the south end of Lincoln Park for it’s first Saturday outdoor market. Reusable bags in hand and smile on face, down the yellow brick road I went.
Expectedly so, GCM was jam-packed, literally. But in addition to all the jam and preserves (as well as the throngs of fresh produce seekers), tables were stocked with bails of asparagus, rhubarb, and potted herbs. Some were saddened by the lack of fruit and other vegetables, clearly ignorant of the true purpose of a farmers’ market; these same people likely consider farmers’ markets to be similar to dog parks, or great places to take those double strollers that take up a 4-lane highway. Me? I was perfectly satisfied, as I was finally able to pick up some asparagus from around these parts, and I am way behind on planting herbs, not to mention my grocery list required basil to be purchased anyway.
Fresh potted basil in hand, I finally decided it was time to bust out this phyllo pizza that’d been patiently waiting in my recipe stack since last summer. It is certainly one of those recipes that you kick yourself for holding out on; the light crunch of the phyllo makes this an extra-special perfect-for-spring/summer-pizza, and the ease of making it doesn’t hurt. Plus, this phyllo dough had been falling out of my freezer since earlier this year when the other half of the box was used for Moroccan pie. I was getting tired of picking it up from the floor every time it fell out of my stupidly narrow side-by-side, and making this pizza was far better than tossing the phyllo into the garbage, just to save myself from having my first panic attack.
Given the light nature of this “pizza”, a side dish was inevitable, and for that, asparagus fit the bill. Rather than cooking it, I tried out a raw salad version, as raw veggie salads seem to be the hype this month. By using one of the cheeses from the pizza in the vinaigrette of the salad, the two dishes worked nicely together and with that – dinner was done.
What’s your favorite asparagus preparation? I’ll take ‘em grilled any day.
Phyllo Pizza w/ Feta, Basil, & Tomatoes
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2009; serves 2-4
1/2 c mozzarella cheese, finely chopped
1/2 c feta cheese, finely crumbled
1/4 c grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 T chopped fresh thyme
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
10 (18 x 14–inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/3 c green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
preheat oven to 375 F.
combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
cut phyllo sheets in half crosswise. working with 1 phyllo sheet half at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), place phyllo sheet on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. spray with cooking spray. repeat with 2 more layers of phyllo. sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. repeat layers 5 times and top with remaining 2 phyllo sheets. coat top phyllo sheet with cooking spray; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture. pat tomato slices with a paper towel, and arrange tomato on top of cheese, leaving a 1-inch border. sprinkle with onions and the remaining tablespoons cheese mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. sprinkle with basil leaves.
Shaved Raw Asparagus Salad w/ Parmesan Vinaigrette
Adapted from Food & Wine, April 2010; serves 4
2 lbs large (fatty) asparagus
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
3 T fresh lemon juice
2 T warm water
1/4 c evoo
salt and pepper
using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into long, thin strips and transfer to a large bowl.
in a small bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, water and olive oil. add to the asparagus and toss to coat. season with salt and pepper and serve.