janet @ the taste space

Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto

In Favourites, Salads on May 14, 2011 at 6:29 AM

I held out for Ontario asparagus. It also announced its entry by being on sale (wahoo!).

I did not hold out for Ontario strawberries. The Californian ones were on sale, too, and perfectly ripe after I left them on my counter for a few days.

Right now, after chowing down on this salad, I don’t care that I didn’t eat local. This was springtime in a bowl, with a dash of summer from the strawberries.

I was inspired by Joanne after I saw her Goat Cheese, Strawberry and Basil Salad. I trotted off to buy some cheap asparagus to go with my ripe strawberries, and was pleased how everything came into place at the grocery store (my new favourite grocery store, better than Bestwin!).

Ontario asparagus was $1.99 a pound, and wasn’t even advertised. I picked the bunch with the thinnest stalks. I had mint at home, so I had planned to forgo basil. However, they had the biggest bunches of basil that I ever did see. Complete with roots, they were that fresh. It tipped my scales at 290g for $1.50 (again, not advertised).  I scored a 1-lb clamshell of baby spring mix for $1.99. They have random containers marked down, but it looked fresh and with an expiry date a week away, I saw no reason not to buy it. I had my juicy strawberries already, so I was all set!

At home, I quickly assembled my salad for one. Steamed my asparagus, quickly blanched some edamame (frozen beans are great for small amounts), thrown overtop the baby greens and basil and drizzled it with mosto cotto. Yes, I christened my Eatalian mosto cotto with this salad. It was divine. Simplicity at its finest.

Mosto cotto (also known as saba), is a a condensed balsamic vinegar made with reduced Concord grapes and then aged for at least 12 years. I was introduced to mosto cotto when Chef Gentile from Buca was at Tastes of Tomorrow. He used it as a finish for a red wine, cinnamon, clove-marinated beef heart salad with grilled radicchio di Treviso, balsamic braised chipling onions, Tallegio cheese, crispy sage, dandelion greens and pickled fig, lightly drizzled with olive oil and mosto cotto.  It was delicious.

He highlighted that certain ingredients are worth their weight in gold. Mosto cotto is an expensive balasmic vinegar, but still considered a poor man’s balsamic vinegar. Compared to the traditional balsamic vinegar it doesn’t compare: it is a thicker syrup with a deep, complex and sweet flavour. I have been wooed to the dark side and recommend searching it out (Amazon.com sells it, and should be found in specialty Italian grocers – I bought mine at Eataly while in New York City).  In this recipe, you could substitute a balsamic syrup by boiling down some balsamic vinegar, or just use a good quality balsamic vinegar.

Asparagus and Strawberry Salad

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for strawberries, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine, this month’s No Croutons Required featuring asparagus and to this month’s Simple and in Season for May.

Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto

1/8 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/2 cup asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 tbsp fresh basil, sliced
3 strawberries, sliced
1 tsp mosto cotto, or balsamic syrup or other good quality balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby spring mix (or your favourite green)

1. On the stovetop, get your steamer ready. Once boiling, drop the edamame in the water to thaw briefly.

2. Put the asparagus in the steamer, and steam until tender-crisp, around 2 minutes (depends how thick your stems are).

3. Remove both when done and set aside.

4. For the salad, plate your greens, top with basil, asparagus, edamame, strawberries and drizzle with mosto cotto or balsamic vinegar.

Serves 1.

  1. Stunning salad! I love the mix of colors here and everything looks so fresh. I think I need to head off and stock up on asparagus and strawberries, too! :)

  2. Looks amazing! I wonder how it would be with fresh (cooked) fava beans instead of edamame.

  3. Hi Janet..

    This says sunshine in a plate! Thanks for the entry and keep them coming :)

    Smitha @ Kannadacuisine

  4. You’ve created a work of art in a salad bowl. It looks delicious and I know I’d enjoy it. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  5. Lovely. I love when asparagus season is here!

  6. I love your version of this salad! Isn’t it so great when you unexpectedly find sales on exactly what you happen to need? Love that.

    Speaking of which (or not)…mosto cotto. I need it in my life.

  7. It is so beautiful my eyes hurt!!!!! It looks like a one-plate summary of the Spring! And both my beloved asparagus + strawberries together… Very original too! You are lucky to find fresh edamame… I only find them frozen :-( I am ashamed to say this, but I think I have never tasted a real, good quality balsamic vinegar. Must go to the shop which I think sells it and start using the good thing!

    • Hey Sissi, Thanks for your comment. I actually used frozen edamame, too. I haven’t seen fresh edamame, but the frozen stuff is great!

      • Thank you so much for the answer. What a relief! I know where to get the frozen edamame and will soon buy it (actually I have never tasted it, so it will be a big adventure!)

      • Hey Sissi, You could substitute any bean you like. It was just reeally convenient for me to take out a small portion of the edamame from the freezer. It also helps that they taste really good, very creamy, and are full of protein. :)

  8. I love how colourful and pretty this dish is! The flavours sound amazing too, I know I’d love this dish!

  9. Such a deliciously springy salad! It’s the kind of food that makes me smile. There’s an award for you at my blog if you want to pick it up! :D

  10. wow! what a delicious salad!

    p.s. Your photos are amazing!

  11. I love all the ingredients in this salad–a great combination. The strawberries look so bright and pretty in it too. Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays. ;-)

  12. This looks like a delicious dish. It will be on my todo list for this spring.

  13. What a great, colorful, and clever salad. Thanks for introducing me to mosto cotto. I do have plans to hit Eataly sometime soon, so I will definite visit the vinegars.

  14. I just tried strawberries and asparagus once and I did not like it, but I have to say that they were cooked (it was a risotto, I think). To me cooked strawberries just don’t work, but this salad looks on another league. I have all the ingredients for this in my counter right now (even a good balsamic vinegar, a great present from my dad) – here is dinner tomorrow coming! Thank you!

  15. I love your salad – makes me want spring to just roll around the corner with its cheerful colours and flavours

  16. Thank You so much for entering your amazing-looking salad and your Edamame hummus into Simple and in Season. Both recipes are just so inspirational! Please enter again next month!

  17. Yumm this looks like such a nice refreshing salad. I love edamame and asparagus. I need to search out mosto cotto!

  18. […] salad, it can go unnoticed. Or shunned when it takes centre stage. I enjoy combining fruit into savoury dishes, and my curiosity was piqued when some friends recommended the bulgur and cantaloupe salad […]

  19. […] it, is my prolific Genovese basil. Remember the 300g of basil I bought when I made the delicious Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto? Since the bunch of basil included the roots, I planted a bunch of the plants into my pot and they […]

  20. […] entries from another blogger in Toronto called The Taste Space. A really amazing looking salad – Asparagus, Strawberry & Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto Along with an asian-inspired Edamame Miso Dip (Hummus, Asian-Style). Both of these recipes are […]

  21. […] Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto Asparagus Ribbon Salad with Mosto Cotto and Almonds Skillet-Toasted Corn, Tomato and Anasazi Bean Salad […]

  22. […] entries from another blogger in Toronto called The Taste Space. A really amazing looking salad – Asparagus, Strawberry & Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto Along with an asian-inspired Edamame Miso Dip (Hummus, Asian-Style). Both of these recipes are […]

  23. What a lovely salad! Thank you for sharing this at this months Ingredient Challenge Monday! I look forward to giving your recipe a try. xo

  24. […] stranger to strawberries perking up a summer salad, instead of balsamic, this time I opted for a savoury note with cinnamon. Cinnamon roasted […]

  25. […] Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto was very filling and brimming over with summer time flavor.  If you have never tried Mosto Cotto, […]

  26. Reblogged this on Vegan,Vegan.

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