FRESH ASPARAGUS AND FRESH STRAWBERRIES
WITH CRISP GREENS AND TOASTED ALMONDS
AND BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE DRESSING
Break off woody part of each asparagus spear where it snaps easily; do not cut off woody stems. Discard woody stems. With a vegetable peeler, remove outer green stringy area of lower fourth of each spear. Rinse asparagus thoroughly under cold running water to remove any sand or grit. Arrange spears in a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish; add water to just cover asparagus. Loosely cover dish with plastic wrap, allowing for steam venting. Microwave at HIGH power for 2 to 4 minutes; check asparagus for degree of doneness. Add additional microwave cooking time in increments of 30 seconds to achieve desired degree of doneness; do not overcook. Asparagus should be crisp tender and not overly soft and mushy. Drain asparagus thoroughly and allow to cool to room temperature.
Prepare strawberries and greens; set aside. To prepare vinaigrette dressing, combine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard together in a 1-cup measure, whisking lightly with a wire whisk. Gradually whisk in oils, blending well. Add sugar and salt and whisk again thoroughly. Taste dressing and adjust seasoning according to taste; set aside.
Arrange greens on each of four salad plates, dividing evenly. Top greens of each salad with 4 to 5 asparagus spears and sliced strawberries, arranged in a fan design. Whisk dressing again and drizzle a small amount over each salad. Or, pass dressing, allowing each person to use amount of dressing desired. Garnish each with crisp croutons and toasted sliced almonds.
Top of Range Cooking Method: Tie asparagus ready for cooking with string into 3 bunches; place bunches upright in a deep medium heavy saucepan filled with about ½ cup boiling water. Cook, uncovered to prevent discoloration of asparagus, for 6 to 8 minutes or until just fork tender. Drain thoroughly. Finish preparing as previously directed
Note: To toast almonds, arrange nuts in one layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a preheated slowoven (300 degrees F.) For about 8 minutes or until lightly browned.
Variation: Add 1 to 2 thinly sliced green onions to each salad.