Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Comfort Food...

Even in the spring sometimes you feel like a bit of comfort food.  This is how I felt last night when I was deciding what to make for dinner.  I decided that a creamy pasta dish would do the trick.  Since I had ramps and scallions, as well as a bit of neufchatel, I thought a creamy sauce with those ingredients laced with lemon would be nice.  Bucatini was the pasta I chose, because it is hearty and I love its texture!  No Angel hair this time!  I decided a bit of roasted asparagus thrown into the pasta would be a nice addition, since it is the season to be eating it!  I could have simply served the pasta as it was with just its creamy self, but I decided to go ahead and give it a lovely pistachio bread crumb topping for a texture contrast!  The dish ended up being delicious and the perfect spring comfort dish!  If it is a rainy day in the spring, and you need some comfort, try this! 

Bucatini and Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Allium Sauce and Pistachio Pecorino Toasted Breadcrumbs
Serves 2 generously


sea salt
6 oz dried bucatini pasta
1 bunch of scallions, sliced
1 bunch of ramps, tops removed from bottoms, and bottoms sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch lengths (about 2 cups)
olive oil
8 oz neufchatel or cream cheese
1 cup shredded pecorino romano, divided
juice and zest of 2 lemons
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Toss scallions, ramp bottoms (reserving tops) and garlic with enough olive oil just to coat, then spread out on one of the baking sheets.  Toss asparagus with just enough oil to coat and spread out on other baking sheet.  Place sheets in oven and roast until the vegetables are lightly brown and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes (probably less for the onions).  Meanwhile, add pasta to salted water and cook according to package directions.  Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water and drain pasta.  Place pasta in a large bowl.  When veggies are done roasting, remove from oven, and put asparagus in bowl with pasta. Place scallions, ramps, and garlic in food processor, along with ramp tops, neufchatel, lemon juice and zest, 3/4 cup pecorino romano and salt and pepper to taste and enough extra pasta water to make a creamy sauce.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and asparagus and toss to coat.  Pour into a medium sized ovenproof casserole dish.  In another bowl, mix together the panko, pistachios,1/4 cup pecorino romano and olive oil.  Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the pasta.  Place in the oven and bake about 10-15 minutes, or until hot and breadcrumbs are lightly brown. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I love a good grain salad once in a while...especially quinoa, since it is such a nutrition powerhouse of a grain! It in fact has a higher protein content than that of other grain, as well as a balanced set of amino acids, which makes it a complete protein source. Since I am a runner, I am always looking for nutritionally packed foods such as this. So when I was deciding what type of grain salad to make today, quinoa it was! I decided that I would pack the salad with even more protein and include navy beans, and pine nuts...two of my favorite ingredients. To give the salad some color and added deliciousness, I added asparagus, which I use in everything I can squeeze it into during the spring season, and some fresh basil and scallions for a fresh flavor. I wanted the flavor of the salad to remain delicate, so I decided that a citrus juice based dressing would do...using fresh lemons and oranges for a bright flavor. The salad was nothing short of fresh spring flavors at their best...and of course it was the type of thing that you feel wonderful and energized after eating!
Citrus Dressed Quinoa, Asparagus and White Bean Salad

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups cooked navy beans
2 cups asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp orange zest
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed about 15 minutes, or when all the grains have turned from white to transparent, and the spiral-like germ has separated. Drain, and let cool. When quinoa is cool, combine with the beans, asparagus, basil, scallions, and pine nuts. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice, orange zest, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss dressing with salad, and chill.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Granola Amy Style

So, I was eating my oatmeal this morning and enjoying how good it was...which got me to thinking about the other ways oatmeal can be served.  Granola came to mind, and suddenly I had a huge craving for some granola!  But not the kind you buy at the store, the home made stuff...where you throw in all the things that you enjoy and make it your own type of granola.  I hadn't made any in years, and so I was quite excited to make a batch of it.  I found some almonds, and pistachios as well as some coconut (which I like to put in everything), and some dried cherries and golden raisins...this would make up my granola!  I decided to sweeten it with honey, and use almond oil instead of the boring old canola.  And to keep it interesting I had to add a touch of vanilla and almond extracts!  It turned out fabulous, and very addictive, so I decided that I must share the recipe!  I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy storebought granola ever again!

 Amy's Granola

6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup pistachios
1cup large flake coconut
3/4 cup almond oil
3/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp maple sugar
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
1 cup dried golden raisins

Line a large baking sheet with non-stick foil, and spray with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 and set rack at the medium position. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, pistachios, and coconut, and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together oil, honey, maple sugar, sea salt, almond and vanilla extracts until well combined, then pour over oat mixture and toss to coat until completely blended. Pour out onto prepared baking sheet, and spread out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes or so until the granola is evenly browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Stir in cherries and raisins, and enjoy!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Asparagus and Ramps...Spring has arrived!

When you start to see asparagus and ramps at the market, you know spring has arrived!  These two wonderful spring produce gems always find many ways to fit into my menus whenever they come into season.  Although I am content to simply roast asparagus and eat it or just eat it raw if it is very tender, I like to include it in things like pizzas, pastas or in quesadillas...which was the case tonight!  Ramps are wonderful as well, such intense flavor for such a little plant!  I love using them in pesto, roasted the most!  So when I was picking out my veggies for dinner today the asparagus and ramps were calling my name!  In the pesto I decided hazelnuts, lemon juice and pecorino romano would accompany the ramps along with some basil.  I only used the ramp tops in the pesto however, since I wanted to roast the bottoms along with some asparagus and use them in the veggie portion of the quesadillas.  Since the pesto had so much flavor, I decided that mozzarella would be a good cheese for the quesadilla because it is so mild, it would showcase the robust flavor of the pesto.  The quesadillas turned out wonderfully!  This is a great spring meal that you should definately try out while asparagus and ramps are in season!  And there will most likely be extra pesto...which is very good on other sandwiches, or in a pasta dish!  Happy Spring!

Roasted Asparagus and Ramp Hazelnut Pesto Quesadillas

Serves 2

1 bunch of asparagus, about 20 thin stalks, ends removed, and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 bunch ramps, leaves and white bottom portions separated (and bottom portion cut into 2 inch pieces)
olive oil

1 garlic clove
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
3/4 oz shredded pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

2 whole grain tortillas (10 inch)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Toss asparagus, and ramp bottoms with olive oil (just enough to lightly coat), and spread out on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for about 10-15 minutes or until starting to brown, and soften. Remove from oven and set aside. Meanwhile, to make the pesto, in a food processor, combine ramp leaves, garlic, basil, hazelnuts, pecorino, lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Process until smooth, adding water one Tbsp at a time if needed to reach a smooth spreadable consistency (you may have extra after you make the quesadillas to use for something else). To assemble Quesadillas, Spread about 2 Tbsp pesto onto each tortilla on one side, then scatter roasted veggies over, and top with mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup on each, then fold over. Heat a large skillet to medium heat, then coat lightly with olive oil, and place quesadillas in the pan. Cook about 3-4 minutes on the first side, until starting to brown, then flip to other side and repeat. When cheese has melted, and second side is nice and browned, remove from heat and cut into wedges. Serve with some more of the pesto if desired.

...and throw in a beet for good measure...

I make some sort of hummus every week now, it is something that I have to have on hand so I can snack on it with veggies and use it as a spread for sandwiches.  So last week, I was checking the cupboard for which types of beans I had, and I came across some dried black turtle beans.  Perfect!  I thought I would combine them with some peanut butter and cilantro as well as some lime juice and make a different sort of hummus than the usual middle eastern inspired one.  I blended all the ingredients together and I decided that the murky black color of the hummus was rather ugly.  So I threw in a beet for good measure, and beautiful color, as well as added nutrients.   I have used beets before in hummus, and those are often my favorites(one of which I have posted on this blog, if you are interested) this turned out to be.  I know it sounds like a wierd combo to pair beets and black beans, but this stuff is addictive!  I especially love it with cucumbers!  So, if you are looking for something a little different in the line of hummus, here you go! 

Beet and Black Bean Hummus

3 cups cooked black beans (canned is fine)
1 medium cooked beet, diced
juice of 3 limes
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (roasted, such as Maranatha brand)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper or cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it)
6 garlic cloves

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Serve with chips or veggies for dipping!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's for dinner?

Yesterday I was trying to decide what to make for dinner...and I knew it had to be something with eggs, since I had an overabundance of them in the fridge.  Since it was a warm day, I thought a salad would be nice...with the poached eggs on top for a nice protein source.  I had a bag of mixed greens and some mushrooms as well, so I thought I would throw them in there for a nice woodsy touch.  I love mushrooms, and their flavor...especially truffles, but since they cost an arm and a leg I keep truffle oil in the fridge for the flavor.  I thought the truffle oil would compliment the mushrooms in the salad well.  I combined it with lemon juice in the dressing so the truffle flavor wouldn't be overpowered.  I wanted the salad to contain a bit of saltiness, and crunch as well, so I topped it off with a bit of shaved pecorino romano, toasted pine nuts, and garlicy breadcrumbs...all things that I always keep on hand.  For a throw together random meal this salad turned out delicious! 

Mushroom, Pecorino and Pine Nut Salad with Garlic Bread Crumbs and Poached Eggs

1 Tbsp truffle oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced

2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
6 cups water
4 organic eggs

3 cups mixed baby greens, or bibb lettuce
6 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup shaved pecorino romano cheese
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

To make dressing, whisk ingredients together and set aside. Next, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and add garlic and bread crumbs. Cook, stirring occasionally until toasted and fragrant, remove from heat and set aside. To poach eggs, heat water to a simmer in a medium saucepan with the vinegar and salt. Crack an egg into a ramakin. Stir water with a spoon to swirl, and carefully pour egg into it. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or preferred doneness, and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with other 3 eggs. To assemble salad, combine greens, mushrooms, pecorino, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and divide between 2 plates. Top with breadcrumbs, then 2 eggs per plate. Serve!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pear and Avocado

Pear and avocado, sort of an unlikely combo...but it is these two ingredients that make up one of my favorite salads to make year round.  I love this salad in the winter, because it makes me think of summer, but I love it in the summer, because I am not feeling like eating hot food...but no matter the season, Asian Avocado Pear Salad is something I make I decided to share the recipe that is currently only written down in my head.  Why is it so good, well the buttery avocadoes are combined with sweet pears, and a salty and yet a little sweet dressing so you get all your flavor cravings in one dish.  Along with the mirin and tamari in the dressing, some wasabi powder is added for a bit of a bite, and some toasted sesame oil for some depth of flavor.  Altogether, something delicious, healthy and easy to prepare!  Something you should definately try whatever the season!

Asian Avocado Pear Salad

serves 2-4
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp tamari
1 tsp wasabi powder
3/4 tsp salt

2 small just ripe avocadoes, diced
2 ripe Anjou or bartlett pears, diced
1 bunch scallions, sliced
3 cups spinach, chopped
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss to combine. Serve!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beet and Strawberry Love Salad...

I love beets...with a passion!  I could eat them everyday...and I often do in some form.  I love the quote "Forget beef...Beets!  It is what's for dinner!" I think more Americans should incorporate them into their diets.  In the health food store I work in, whenever we have beet salad in the case, it flies!  My favorie way to eat them is simply soaked in vineger, but sometimes I like to dress them up a little more.  So yesterday I was thinking that maybe they would be good with some fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar in a salad.  I was feeling creative and in a good mood, so I even cut the beets into little hearts before tossing them into the salad.  I decided that I would also include some goat cheese and walnuts in the salad along with the beets, for some extra protein.  It turned out marvelous, and is definately something that any beet lover will enjoy!  Spring is here, and this is the perfect salad for it! 

Beet Strawberry Love Salad

Serves 3
1 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp cherry balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh basil, cut chiffonade, or 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 cup cooked beets, sliced
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, broken into pieces
3 cups mixed baby greens
1 1/2 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the beets, berries, shallot, and walnuts, and toss with the dressing to coat. Divide the greens between three plates, then divide the beet mixture between the greens. Top with the crumbled goat cheese and serve!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Veg and Goat Cheese

I love goat cheese...especially the fresh variety.  My favorite is definately Donnay Dairy Chevre, because it is a local brand, produced in MN, and it has a wonderful tangy flavor, never goaty.  I use it in everything from desserts to savory applications, such as crumbled over a salad.  It pairs well with many things, and nuts are one of them.  I was thinking some goat cheese sounded good the other day, and I decided to coat it in some toasted almonds and serve it with a salad to add some protein to it. For the salad, I was feeling like something springish, and so I raided my fridge and saw what I could find in there to compose it.  some radishes, snap peas, and carrots, as well as some baby spinach!  Very springy, and for some extra adornment I threw on some dried cherries!  I wanted some light and bright flavored dressing, so I opted for a lemon vinaigrette...which turned out to be a good descision.  The salad was everything I was hungry for that day...lots of veg, with the richness of goat cheese and almonds alongside!  A nice light salad to accompany a main dish protein. 

Lemon Dressed Spring Vegetable Salad with Almond Crusted Goat Cheese

1/2 cup fresh soft goat cheese
1 small garlic clove, minced
zest of one lemon
1 cup toasted sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
a good pinch of sea salt

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup carrots, sliced into ribbons, using a vegetable peeler, or cut julienne
1/2 cup radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries
In a bowl, combine goat cheese, garlic and lemon zest and mix until well combined. Roll the goat cheese into 6 balls. In a bowl, mix together almonds and sea salt. Roll goat cheese balls in the almonds until toasted and set aside in the fridge. To make salad, in a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, combine spinach, carrots, radishes, snap peas, and cherries. Pour dressing over, and toss to combine until all vegetables are coated. Divide salad between two plates, and top each with 3 goat cheese balls.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Almond butter...

Almond butter is something you used to only be able to find in a health food store...and when I was a child, my Mom would buy it instead of peanut butter.  So I would go to school with my almond butter and jelly sandwiches and wonder why Mom couldn't just buy some Skippy!  Luckilly my views have changed since then, I now work in a health food store and appriciate things like almond butter.  Now that it is more widely available and more creamy (not unstirrable like the natural brands used to be), I actually love the stuff!  I usually buy the organic roasted maranatha almond has wonderful flavor!  It is awsome when used in cookies in place of peanut butter for a change, but I love it in savory applications as well.  One of my favorite uses for almond butter is dressing for a salad.  I like to combine it with some heat, and it works well with the almond flavor.  For the heat in this instance I used a jalapeno pepper, dried chipotle and fresh ginger, and I loved the result.  If you want it even more spicy you could use a seranno chili, but I wanted it to be a bit more mellow this time.  This is a great simple salad recipe, and the dressing makes extra, so you can store the extra in the fridge and use it later. 

Chili Almond Romaine and Vegetable Salad

Serves 2 generously, or 4 side salads

1/2 cup almond butter (roasted unsalted)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp water
1 tsp maple syrup
juice of 2 lemons
1 Tbsp tamari
3 garlic cloves
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 Jalapeno chili, seeded
1/8-1/4 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tsp sea salt

1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried well, and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup carrots, cut thin julienne
1 cup jicama, cut thin julienne
1 cup red bell pepper, julienne
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, carrots, jicama, bell pepper, and about 1/3 cup of the dressing, or enough dressing to coat (reserving the rest of the dressing for future use). Toss well to coat, and divide among the plates, topping with the toasted almonds.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mangoes, Coconut and Curry...

Sometimes you just can't get to the store, and therefore, you are forced to cook with what you happen to have on hand at the time.  This was the case for me yesterday.  I had some tilapia fillets, but I didn't want to cook them in a boring way, so I thought maybe a coconut coating would be good...and since shredded coconut and panko bread crumbs are things that I always have, it could be made without a trip to the store. But I thought a piece of fish on its own might be a little boring on the plate and not so pretty to look at, as well as needing something to compliment it, with a different texture than the crunchy coated fish.  So I looked at my counter and there sat a mango, a shallot, and a few pieces of citrus.  I didn't want to make a salsa, so I thought maybe a compote similar to a chutney might be nice.  I had some golden raisins in my fridge, and some curry powder, so the experiment could begin!  I was skeptical about the combination of he compote with the coconut fish to be honest, and not being a curry expert, it could have been a hit or miss situation, but it ended up being a hit...very good!  This is definately something that I will make again even if I have to buy the ingredients.  Maybe sometimes it is good to be forced to cook using what you have instead of making a trip to the store! 

Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Curried Mango Compote

2 tsp coconut oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp sweet curry powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large mango, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
juice of 2 medium oranges
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp golden raisins
sea salt to taste
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tilapia filets
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp coconut oil
To begin, make the compote. Heat coconut oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, then add shallots and saute until translucent. Add curry powder and cayenne and saute for about 30 seconds, then add the mango, lemon juice, orange juice, honey and raisins. Cook on medium heat until the mangoes start to soften, then lower to a simmer on low heat while you prepare the fish.
Turn the oven on to 250 degrees. In a large shallow bowl, place the flour. In another large shallow bowl, whisk together egg and milk. In another large shallow bowl, combine coconut and panko. Season the fish with sea salt and pepper. Line the 3 bowls up and dredge the fish in the flour, then dip in the egg to coat, then place the fish in the panko mixture and make sure you coat the fish evenly, pressing the crumbs and coconut onto the fish to adhere. Set aside fish aside on a plate while you heat the pan. In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil, and 1 Tbsp butter. Place the fish in the pan, and cook until golden on the first side, and beginning to cook through about 4-5 minutes. Flip the fish over, and cook on the other side until golden, and cooked all the way through (the fish should flake easily, and be opaque all the way through). Remove the fish to a plate in the oven to keep warm. When the compote has simmered for about 20 minutes, taste for seasoning, and add sea salt to taste. Place the fish fillets on a plate, then spoon the compote over the top of the fish and serve!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Carrot Hummus

Although I have always liked hummus, I have been on a real hummus eating kick lately, and have decided that it is something that I always want to keep stocked in my fridge.  I love using it as a dip for chips and veggies as well as a sandwich spread, since it has more redeeming health qualities than many of the alternatives.  It was only recently that I decided to experiment with my own hummus, since then I could adjust the seasonings to my tastes, and make different and interesting variations of it using different types of beans and vegetables.  A few weeks back, I used beets, and that gave the hummus a beautiful magenta I thought this time I would use carrots and make it a nice orange color!  The end product turned out great, and is definately something I will make again when I have a few extra carrots!  Although this is basically a classic hummus recipe (besides the fact that I used white beans instead of chickpeas, and threw in carrots), I decided to add an herb at the end, some fresh cilantro, to give it an even more fresh flavor.  Next time you are looking for something to dip your veggies or spread on your sandwich, try making this if you are feeling like something healthy but tasty as an alternative to mayo based dips and spreads.  You may never go back to dill dip again!

Carrot and White Bean Hummus
2 cups cooked white beans (canned is fine)
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
6 garlic cloves
juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper or cayenne
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, packed
In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Serve with chips or veggies for dipping, or as a spread on a sandwich!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Potatoes, asparagus, and snap peas...

Baby potatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas are all vegetables that make me think of spring, and that I have been waiting to show up again at grocery store!  Although these veggies are not in season in Minnesota yet, they are now available to those of us living here.  I would much prefer to buy them at the farmer's market, but until then the grocery store will do!  On a recent trip there, I noticed that asparagus was on sale and had to pounce on it since it is normally way overpriced.  I thought it would go well in a salad since the stalks were tender and young, and bought some snap peas and crisp romaine to go along with it.  I then walked by the potatoes and upon viewing the Peruvian purple potatoes I decided that I must buy some of those as well since they were such a beautiful color.  To balance it out I grabbed some German butterball potatoes as well.  So what would dress my salad of spring inspired veggies?  I make vinaigrettes a lot, and although a lemon vinaigrette would have been good, I decided to change it up a bit and make a creamy lemon tahini dressing and throw in some toasted sesame seeds for even more flavor.  The recipe I have included makes extra dressing than the amount that you need for the salad, but you will be glad to have it if you make it since it is delicious and keeps well for a while in the fridge.  The salad turned out wonderfully, and I will definately be making it again, especially when the farmer's market opens! 

Tahini Dressed Crisp Romaine Salad with Baby Potatoes, Asparagus, and Snap Peas
Serves 2 generously

Tahini Dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup water
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

2 cups baby potatoes, halved if more than 2 inch diameter
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup thin asparagus, cut into 2 inch long pieces
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

In a food processor, combine dressing ingredients and process until smooth, set aside 1/3 cup and reserve the rest for another use (keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks). In a medium pot, place the potatoes, about a tsp salt, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 20-25 minutes until a knife inserted into one of the potatoes pierces it easily, but not mushy. Drain potatoes, run cold water over them, and let cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, lettuce, snap peas, asparagus, sesame seeds, and the reserved 1/3 cup dressing. Toss to coat, and divide between 2 plates.