Cook's Corner: Add some color to your table

Published 12:43 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2007

By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
Over the past few weeks, I have been providing recipes for you that would be great for an Easter dinner. With just a few days left until the big day, I am providing some last minute vegetable ideas to go along with the ham and dessert recipes I've already provided.
For some reason I always prepare broccoli some way for the meal. I don't care for plain, old steamed broccoli so I have to dress it up some way. I usually vary my choices between a broccoli casserole and a broccoli salad. I'm leaning toward the broccoli salad this year.
A lot of people I know simply must have asparagus on the table in order for it to be considered Easter dinner. I'm not particularly fond of asparagus but I realize there are people out there that love it.
My friend's son, Conner, could probably eat a whole field of it if he had the chance. Just to give Connie and some other cooks a break, I've found a couple of asparagus recipes that will give a little variety to the vegetable.
Super Easy Asparagus
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted
salt to taste
Fill a large saucepan with one-half inch of water and bring to a boil. Cook asparagus until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain, then rinse with cold water. Return pan to the stove over medium heat, pour in oil, and swirl around pan. Shake excess water off of the asparagus, and toss in oil with sesame seeds, and salt to reheat. To toast sesame seeds, toss them in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant.
Not every store carries sesame seeds, so adding that item to the dish may be a little difficult to do on such short notice. If you can't find them in time to make the dish above, here's another option you have.
Baked Balsamic Asparagus
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
cooking spray
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper. Bake asparagus 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the baked asparagus to serve.
I realize that most cooks already know about the broccoli salad recipe. I've used the recipe while preparing many meals. I have added to and taken away in this recipe many times. It basically stays the same but you can add a little something if you want or delete any of the ingredients you don't like.
The basic/original recipe is very simple and very delicious. One tip though: it's better if you make it the night before you plan to serve it. For some reason, an over-night sit in the refrigerator improves the flavors in this salad.
Broccoli Salad
1 large bunch broccoli
12 oz. sliced bacon
1 small red onion
1 cup mayonnaise
One-third cup sugar
3 tbsp. vinegar
Separate broccoli into small florets. Cook bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble bacon with broccoli.
Thinly slice onion into rings and toss with broccoli and bacon. For dressing, mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar well stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat vegetables. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For some extra tips on this salad, you can toss in a few water chestnuts, raisins, celery or even some pecans or slivered almonds. When I make my salad dressing for this dish, I use red wine vinegar. The white vinegar is perfectly fine. I used regular white vinegar for years in this recipe until one day when all I had on hand was the red wine vinegar. The red wine vinegar changed up the taste more than I expected and I like it even better than the white vinegar dressing. I've never tried balsamic vinegar in this recipe.
I'm not sure how that would taste and I don't want to waste a whole cup of mayonnaise just to find out.
By the way, be sure to use mayonnaise and not salad dressing.
The difference in the taste of those two things really makes a difference.
If you do have to use the salad dressing, omit the sugar in the dressing recipe, as the salad dressing is already sweeter than mayonnaise.
Be sure to check back here next week. As you might expect, I hope to give you some recipes for egg salad and other recipes that call for boiled eggs.
If you're anything like me, you'll probably have at least a dozen pretty eggs in your refrigerator that you'll need to find something to do with. I hope I can help you next week.
Until then, Happy Cooking and Happy Easter!
Contact Lisa Tindell at 867-4876 or by e-mail at

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