Roasted Asparagus with Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

Asparagus: It’s What’s for Dinner

Last week, I had the great opportunity to meet the celebrated food writer Patricia Wells at a private event sponsored by the St. Louis Culinary Society. She was in town promoting her new cookbook, Vegetable Harvest. She talked about her experience writing, testing and photographing all the recipes for the book and her absolute reverence for pure, fresh food came through bright and clear. How many people notice the “beautiful purple striations” in a shallot? I like her even more.

I’ve always been a fan of her simple, rustic cooking. I wore out my copy of Bistro Cooking when I was first teaching myself to cook, and still make a variation of her Sautéed Chicken with Shallots. My other favorites are the five flavored (chocolate, honey, lemon, pistachio and hazelnut) madeleine recipes in her book, Simply French. Luckily, these were two titles I didn’t lose in the flood.

And who could help envying her lifestyle? She lives in Provence in an old restored farmhouse, surrounded by olive trees, vineyards and lush vegetable gardens. No wonder this book inspires me! The recipes are all uncomplicated and full of the Mediterranean flavors I crave.

I went straight home and made this recipe from the book – just add a serving of grilled chicken or salmon and some crusty bread. Call it dinner.

Roasted Asparagus with Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

Adapted from Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells
Four servings

1 pound asparagus, bottoms trimmed
Shallot Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Coarse sea salt
6 cups prewashed baby arugula
2 finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (use a vegetable peeler)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss asparagus on a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the shallot vinaigrette and season with salt. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons water over asparagus.
Roast asparagus until slightly brown at the tips and slightly firm, about 12 minutes.
Toss arugula and green onions in a large bowl with remaining vinaigrette. Arrange on a serving platter and top with asparagus. Scatter the cheese over the top.

Shallot Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Cover and shake until creamy and emulsified.
Can be refrigerated up to one day ahead.

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