Chilled Asparagus with Sweet Peppers and Tuna Dressed in My Favorite Scallion Vinaigrette

Although the tuna wasn’t featured in the video, I wanted to show you another way to serve this fabulous salad “meal” which is just perfect either when having guests for a weekend lunch or when you want to provide your family with a light and refreshing supper during the week.

serves 6 to 8 for lunch or a light supper

Ingredients

  • 4 Roasted Bell Peppers: 2 red and 2 yellow, skinned, seeded and sliced Garlic Confit Oil or extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Garlic Confit Oil or extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Capers, drained (a few tablespoons)
  • Chiffonade of Fresh Basil
  • 1/3 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds tender young asparagus blanched and chilled (see instructions that follow)
  • My Favorite Scallion Vinaigrette (following)
  • 1 can (10.5 ounces) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and well drained
  • 4 cans (6 1/8 ounces each) Italian chunk light tuna (packed in olive oil), drained and flaked with a fork (not mashed)
  • 1/3 cup additional drained capers (optional)

My Favorite Scallion Vinaigrette (yields about 2 1/2 cups)

  • 1 cup regular olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or less)
  • Generous twist freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions (green onions), trimmed white parts and 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the tender green
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano (optional)

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Learn to Cook for more information.

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Shopping List

Canned & Jarred Goods
1 can (10.5 ounces) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and well drained
1 cup regular olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup additional drained capers (optional)
4 cans (6 1/8 ounces each) Italian chunk light tuna (packed in olive oil), drained and flaked with a fork (not mashed)
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Capers, drained (a few tablespoons)

Produce
1 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup minced scallions (green onions), trimmed white parts and 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the tender green
1/3 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, sliced
2 1/2 to 3 pounds tender young asparagus blanched and chilled (see instructions that follow)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Roasted Bell Peppers: 2 red and 2 yellow, skinned, seeded and sliced Garlic Confit Oil or extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
Chiffonade of Fresh Basil

Spices & Baking
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (or less)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Generous twist freshly ground black pepper

To flavor the peppers

Toss the sliced peppers with between 1/4 and 1/3 cup oil, minced garlic, capers and olives. Two hours before serving, add the basil, onions and the balsamic vinegar.

To assemble the platter and serve

Lay 9 thin or 6 thick blanched asparagus spears on individual serving plates with the tips facing in the same direction. Stir vinaigrette and ladle some over the asparagus. Lay some of the pepper strips on top along with a few garbanzo beans. Ladle on a bit more dressing, top with some flaked tuna and, if desired, scatter some capers over top. Serve and pass additional dressing at the table along with some balsamic vinegar to drizzle on top. Be sure to have a reliable peppermill at the table.

To assemble the dressing

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar or a bowl and shake well or whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If made in advance and very chilled, let the dressing sit out of the refrigerator to release its full flavor, before serving.

Timing is Everything

Up to 3 days ahead of time, you may blanch your asparagus, roast and marinate your peppers and prepare your vinaigrette. Store all, well covered, in the refrigerator.

How to blanch asparagus

In order to retain its firm texture and bright green color, asparagus should be cooked quickly and served immediately or blanched (briefly boiled and then quickly refreshed in ice water to stop the cooking process). An eight-quart blanching pot with a built-in strainer is extremely useful but not essential. Blanched asparagus may be served chilled or finished up to three days later by baking or sautéing.

To prepare asparagus for cooking

Wash asparagus and trim off the woody ends using a sharp knife or snap off the tough fibrous bottom. Although unnecessary, you may use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin of each asparagus starting 2 inches below the flowerette in a firm but gentle downward motion. Peeling is not advised in young, delicate asparagus. Separate asparagus into 2 or 3 bunches and tie each bunch twice, 2 inches apart, with kitchen twine.

To blanch asparagus

Bring a large pot of water to boil and set a large bowl of ice water on the counter. Lightly salt boiling water and lower asparagus bundles into pot. The cooking time will be determined by the age, thickness and ultimate use of the asparagus. To serve chilled, cook until tender but al dente (slightly firm to the tooth, 4 to 8 minutes, checking after 4 minutes. If blanching to finish later, cook until stalks are softened but not yet tender, 3 to 6 minutes, checking after 3 minutes. In either case, immediately lift asparagus out of the boiling water and plunge into the bowl of ice water. (To lift bundles if not using a blanching pot, insert one of the prongs of a long kitchen fork under one of the strings that secure each bunch.) When asparagus is cold to the touch, remove from the ice water, lay on paper toweling and snip off the strings in order to drain properly. Gently pat dry and either use now or roll up carefully in paper towel and place into a heavy plastic bag. Seal and keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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