Zio’s in Myers Park is a family favorite of Tom Holmes, who requested their Harvest Salad recipe.
As it turns out, it’s really several recipes tossed into one. While that makes it look more complicated, the components are all very versatile. I’m sure I’ll use the marinated peppers, for instance, in many other dishes.
It’s also timely, since spring is upon us and asparagus season will be in full swing soon. Select bright green stalks that are fresh, firm and smooth, with tightly closed tips. Wash the asparagus thoroughly right before using, but don’t soak it. Just hold the stalks under cold running water and lightly shake to loosen any debris from the tips. Then hold both ends firmly and bend until the fibrous base snaps off.
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116 Middleton Drive; 704-344-0100.
Zio’s Harvest Salad
6 cups mixed greens
1 pound asparagus, blanched and grilled (see notes)
1 cup sugar-roasted pecans (see recipe)
1 cup marinated red peppers (see recipe)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Balsamic glaze (see note)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup olive oil
PLACE lettuces in a large bowl, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Divide greens among individual plates or a large serving platter. Top with asparagus, pecans, red peppers, cranberries, and crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve immediately.
Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender and turn it on. With the motor running, drizzle olive oil through the opening in the lid until a creamy emulsion forms. Can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days. You also could put all ingredients in a jar, screw the lid on tightly, and shake vigorously to emulsify.
Grilled Asparagus: Drop asparagus stalks into boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove immediately and place in an ice bath to halt cooking. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Baste asparagus with garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning, until tender, about 5 minutes.
Note: You can buy balsamic glaze at gourmet stores. Or you can make it: Bring 2 cups balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon honey. Cool and refrigerate up to one week.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Marinated Red Peppers
8 roasted red bell peppers (canned, jarred or homemade)
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
SLICE peppers into strips and place in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Toss. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.
Note: To roast peppers at home, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rub peppers with olive oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until peppers are soft and skins have split, about 30 minutes. Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let peppers steam 20 minutes, then peel. Slice in half lengthwise, and remove ribs and seeds.
2 cups whole pecans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes. Watch carefully as they can easily scorch.
PLACE pecans in a bowl and toss with olive oil while still hot. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and toss again. Cool and store in an airtight container.