But, no matter, right? Salads can definitely be eaten year-round, especially when you’re trying to get back to lighter meals after all the comfort foods of winter. And, besides, this is one of my new favorite salads.
It’s based off one at a popular Chicago lunch/sandwich place called Hannah’s Bretzel. They have really great sandwiches, but when I go I tend to get the small one (wecken) with an Ella’s salad on the side. Not to sound like a Yelp review, but the first time I got it, I was amazed at the size of the salad. Most “side” salads, especially in the Loop, are a few scrawny pieces of lettuces and maybe like 3 bites of other vegetables drowning in dressing. After I got past how miraculously substantial this one was, I loved it even more for the way it tasted.
This salad includes some of my favorite things: asparagus, roasted tomatoes, cashews, mozzarella, and cannellini beans. Definitely not your typical side salad. It comes with a white balsamic vinaigrette that’s a little tangier than normal vinaigrettes (which works for me, as I vastly prefer this to oilier vinaigrettes). It’s worth going for, even if you don’t eat any of their vast array of fancy schmancy chocolate bars staring at you as you make your way through the line.
Now, if only this salad had the magical powers to bring warmer weather.
Yields about 4 big servings
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large sprig rosemary cut into a few pieces
12 oz. asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces with tough stems discarded
10 oz. mixed salad greens (with baby kale , optional)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, diced
2/3 cup cashews, dry roasted or raw & toasted in a skillet
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely minced, or 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400. Toss the tomatoes and olive oil on a baking sheet with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, stirring once, until they have shriveled a bit and are wrinkly. Set aside to cool (I made these the night before and refrigerated them).
Place the rosemary in a small to medium pot/saucepan about 2/3 full of water. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for about 5 minutes. Place the asparagus into the boiling water. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Cook the asparagus for about 2 minutes, until tender-crisp and still bright green. Remove the asparagus with a strainer or spider and plunge immediately into the ice water.
To make the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to whisk to emulsify the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the salad greens, cooled tomatoes, drained asparagus, cheese, cashews, and white beans with the dressing.