We find ourselves mired in the first genuinely hot week of the year. Summer, my friends, is my least favorite season but at least eating salads makes it endurable. Our menu for the week is a string of salads. And here is the first one, originally from Taste of Home magazine. We have altered it very little, cutting down on the onion because breathing fire is not a desirable side effect of dinner for us. Also, because cherry tomatoes are beyond our budget and our own plants aren't bearing fruit yet, we chopped larger tomatoes into comparable chunks.
Asparagus Mozzarella Salad
2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
2 cups chopped tomatoes (or grape or cherry tomatoes)
1 small shallot, halved and sliced
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cover and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately place asparagus in ice water. Drain and pat dry. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cheese, tomatoes, onion and basil.
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, mustard and pepper. Pour over salad; toss to coat. Drizzle with lemon juice. Chill until serving. Yield: 15 servings (2/3 cup each).