The first time I tried asparagus was not a good experience. The fact that I remember the first bite of a specific vegetable is a bad sign in itself. Anyway, this was back in the mid-90s, and anyone who knew me then can tell you that I was a picky eater. A painfully picky eater.
Here’s how it went down: My family and I were having dinner at the Fishbowl, a seafood restaurant in my hometown, and for some reason I decided to try a nibble of asparagus from my dad’s plate.
Maybe my sister dared me, or my 10-year-old self suddenly decided to be adventurous. That part I don’t recall. All I remember is the asparagus tasting so bitter and awful to my young taste buds that I might as well have eaten a piece of soap.
Fast forward almost 20 years and I can’t think of a food I don’t like, let alone beautiful spring asparagus! I love asparagus so much now that I decided to feature it here two ways: 1) raw and shaved into ribbons, tossed with a bright white balsamic vinaigrette and served with fibre-rich millet, hard-boiled egg and toasted sunflower seeds; and 2) wrapped in thin slices of salty, smoky prosciutto ham and crisped up under the broiler.
Funny how things change! I’m still glad for these unpleasant food-related memories, though, because it helps me sympathize with picky eaters. Some people, whether kids or adults, genuinely do not like strong-tasting foods and there is little that can be done about it. (One thing that does help mask the taste of bitter foods, however, is cheese sauce!)
In my case, it simply took time for my palate to mature and get accustomed to stronger flavours. As I became more interested in cooking and willing to experiment in the kitchen, the more open I became to foods I used to dislike.
Were you once a picky eater, or do you have to deal with one? How do you cope?
Lastly, stay tuned for the second edition of What I Ate Wednesday coming up tomorrow! Yup, I’ll be posting two days in a row :) Yesterday was a holiday here in Canada (Victoria Day) and I spent it doing yard work (with a bum ankle, I might add!), hence no Monday post.
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup millet
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed, shaved lengthwise into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1. To make the hard-boiled eggs: Place eggs in a small pot, cover with cold water and add the vinegar (this makes peeling much easier). Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water starts boiling, remove pot from heat, cover and set a kitchen timer for 18 minutes. When the time is up, run the eggs under cold water until cool to the touch. Peel and slice crosswise; set aside.
- 2. While the eggs are cooking, place the millet in a medium pot and cover with 3 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 20-30 mins. Drain excess water if needed and fluff with a fork.
- 3. Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry pan over medium-high heat until lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes; set aside.
- 4. Make the dressing: Find a mason jar or any other container with a lid. Add the olive oil, vinegar and mustard to the jar, replace the lid tightly and shake vigorously to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- 5. In a medium bowl add the asparagus ribbons and pour about 1/3 of the dressing overtop. Toss, adding more dressing if needed.
- 6. Divide the millet among four serving plates and top each with the asparagus salad and a sliced egg; sprinkle with the toasted sunflower seeds and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- This recipe yeilds more vinaigrette dressing than needed. Simply store in the refrigerator for later use.
- 1 bunch asparagus (about 20 spears), woody ends trimmed
- 10 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pre-heat broiler. Wrap a prosciutto slice around each asparagus spear. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil, flipping once halfway through cooking, until asparagus is fork-tender and prosciutto is beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes total. Arrange on a serving plate and serve immediately.