Isn’t this a cool valentine? This may date me but I got it from a boy named David when I was in the first grade. It seems he saw a certain potential in me even at that young age. I have kept it safely tucked away ever since. Oh, the insight of young love!
But why do we exchange these small notes of acknowledgment, otherwise known as valentines, every February? It seems it all began with a Christian named Valentine some 1800 years ago. Valentine was a priest who was jailed by the Romans for his faith under the rule of Claudius II. His jailor had a blind daughter that Valentine is said to have healed. As he was led out to his death, legend has it that the priest left a note of witness for the jailor’s daughter. It was signed, “From your Valentine.”
St. Valentine refused to deny his faith in Jesus Christ and so he died that day, February 14, AD 269. But his testimony to his love for Christ lived on in the note he left for the jailor’s daughter. And so as we pass valentines to one another, though many are corny and others are little more than advertisements for popular toys, we continue in this tradition of proclaiming the power of love.
As St.Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching this year, my attention has turned toward ways to note the occasion. I love valentine cards. I also enjoy experimenting with chocolate and I hope to come up with a worthy truffle this weekend. But for now, as I begin to think about Valentine’s Day, I want to come up with a menu that is romantic, nutritious and easy. As that special day falls in the middle of a busy week, a simple menu is a must and yet it is nice to do something a little beyond the ordinary to mark the occasion for our own special Valentines at home.
As I tried to think of a romantic vegetable, a recipe I cut from the paper several years ago came to mind. It was for asparagus with an Asian inspired sauce. I dug through my files and finally found it. To my surprise it noted that the recipe was from one of my favorite cookbooks, “The World in a Bowl of Tea” by Bettina Vitell, and I had never noticed. Even more reason to try it again!
This recipe may appeal to tastes a bit more mature than my First Grade Valentine could have imagined, still I do appreciate his early vote of confidence in my ability to “cook up the sweetest Valentine!”
Asparagus with Walnut Dressing
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon sake
1 pound asparagus
Chop walnuts or put them through a nut grinder or food processor until the are fine but have some small chunks remaining.
Place the walnuts, soy sauce, sugar and sake in a small bowl and stir until well combined.
Trim the hard woody ends from the asparagus stalks. (You can do this by holding the upper end of the stalk with one hand while bending the cut end of the stalk to the side with the other hand until it snaps. Discard the bottom portion.)
Slice the tender portion of the stalks at an angle into 2 inch lengths.
Steam the asparagus until tender and bright green, no longer than two minutes. Immediately drain and rinse under cold water.
Arrange asparagus in a serving bowl or on individual plates. Drizzle with the sake sauce.
Serve and enjoy!
Note: Any remaining sauce can be refrigerated and used on other steamed vegetables. It is delicious on green beans or spinach. I think it would be good on many other vegetables as well.
This is my entry in Vegetable Love 2008, a blogging event sponsored by Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. It asks for “food bloggers to post their most romantic, most seductive vegetable recipes…something suitable for a cozy dinner by candlelight…something that says “I love you, and I don’t want you to keel over with a heart attack!”" I think this quick romantic dish qualifies.