Grilled Asparagus and Quinoa Salad . $6.25

A series of mishaps around a Chef’s published recipe (some hers, some mine) turned out to be quite the happy accident. The result though is nothing less than a perfect alchemy of flavors: lightly grilled asparagus, Kalamata olives, shaved Parmesan and Quinoa form the base of this salad. My tangy Citrus vinaigrette and a poached egg top it off and blend together to form the most marvelous flavors. Really a main meal, the term Salad doesn’t do it justice.

Grilled Asparagus & Quinoa Salad
Grilled Asparagus & Quinoa Salad

The first time I made this I ran into trouble – the chef, it seems didn’t know how to boil an egg. Never having made a soft-boiled egg, I made the first batch. Disaster. I assumed the mistake was mine, and did it again. Now, I had eight crappy eggs that squished and couldn’t be peeled. All of which might be more of a tell on my personality than I’d normally reveal…I am often plagued with a sense of over responsibility and think things are my fault. Luckily, Gibby happily helped me out with a few of the disaster eggs over the next couple of days.

Gibby never turns down any food.
Gibby never turns down any food.

I backed up and punted, and replaced the egg with Perfectly Poached, but if you’d like to go with the boiled ones as shown in her recipe, be sure to consult Bon Appetit’s How to Boil an Egg. They have a marvelous chart showing exactly the degree of doneness of an egg and how many minutes of cooking it takes to get there, complete with side by side photos.

That being said, the Chef did know how to perfectly grill Asparagus, and I’m happy to pass on a couple of secrets here, hers and mine. Lightly cook them first for about 3 minutes (I do mine, standing up in water, in the microwave), then lay them down on a kitchen towel and gently roll them to absorb the excess moisture before drizzling with olive oil and grilling. A little extra work, but the results are gorgeous.

Asparagus Microwave xThis simple Salad will be in my rotation whenever Asparagus is reasonable, even though it’s not necessarily a low-budget salad – it is that good. The original lemon dressing turned into my Honey Citrus Vinaigrette already in my fridge door, which was a good thing. I seriously can almost drink that stuff. I added a bit of tarragon from my herb garden. Quinoa, a healthier choice, replaced the bread. Parmesan stood in for the elusive (and probably very expensive) aged Jack Cheese. And while the chef used Anchovies, which I didn’t have on hand, I pulled out some Kalamata olives.

Don’t discount what the egg does, here – while Hollandaise is a perfect pairing for Asparagus, the egg and the Citrus Vinaigrette melded together and formed a most marvelous “sauce.” The photo above doesn’t show the herbs, which I forgot to add on this batch – seems to be becoming a trend with me – I forgot them on one of my batches of Chicken Italiano earlier in the week! Do use the herbs, though, because while still good without, they make a huge difference.

Some of the big meat eaters in my family would definitely look askance at this as a main meal – Kid number two would say, “Yeah, that was good, where’s dinner?” Between the egg, quinoa and cheese, this is a pretty high protein meal, but if that’s the case in your house, use this as a starter, maybe for a simple grilled chicken or fish, or consider substituting some grilled Salmon or other fish for the egg. The salad could be made a bit more substantial with an extra egg for the big eaters, a bit more quinoa and some good, Crusty Bread on the side.

Honey Citrus Vinaigrette: So good on many Salads & Fruits
Honey Citrus Vinaigrette: So good on many Salads & Fruits

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Quinoa and Egg

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 pound of Asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Honey Citrus Vinaigrette
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped tarragon to taste (1/4 teaspoon dried, or substitute another herb)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata Olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked Quinoa (about 1 cup uncooked)
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, shaved
  • salt & pepper to taste

Rinse quinoa under running water in a mesh strainer for several minutes. Add Quinoa to two cups of water in a medium sized saucepan. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt if desired. Bring to a boil, cover and turn down to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from burner, cover with a clean towel, replace lid and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Preheat grill. Cook asparagus in the microwave for about for 3 minutes, remove and lay on a clean kitchen towel. Roll back and forth to dry. (Asparagus can be cooked the day before or earlier in the day.) Place on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and give them another roll to lightly coated. Grill until just done and the color slightly turns. Let cool to room temperature.

Poach or boil eggs to desired doneness. Set aside. (Eggs may be made ahead)

To serve, divide quinoa and asparagus among 4 plates. Arrange egg and olives on the plates, Drizzle with dressing, then add tarragon, parsley and shaved cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can also be served as a Salad Bowl, while not as attractive is just as good.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time and managing this recipe on a budget.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
Freeze Short term only!
Freeze Short term only!

Put Your own Spin on It:

This is a great concept to make your own – and since this is marvelous as a Salad Bowl, too, consider looking at the components and changing out what you wish. A different dressing, perhaps a different vegetable, different grain.

Leftovers?

Chop up the Asparagus, layer the components in a bowl and bring to work for a great lunch.

Safety Note:

Raw or under cooked eggs may pose a safety risk.

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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