We're celebrating Meatless Mondays with balanced, delicious meal plans. We hope you'll join us -- whether you're vegetarian all the time or just here and there.
Today: Cook with the seasons for dinner, then enjoy one of life's eternal pleasures -- chocolate -- for dessert.
Here at Food52, we love cooking with the seasons: You can't beat July's juicy tomatoes or September's Concord grapes. But there are also some recipes that are timeless, and Alice Medrich's cocoa brownies is one of them. We would happily eat a warm brownie with a scoop of ice cream on a freezing winter night or sneak a cold brownie from the refrigerator on summer's hottest day.
Tonight, we're mixing and matching a seasonal dinner recipe with a seasonless dessert. Celebrate spring with a salad of tender lettuce, crisp asparagus, and soft-boiled eggs, then indulge in chocolate, one of life's eternal pleasures. And the best part? You'll have enough brownies leftover that you can snack on them all week long.
Serves 2, with leftover brownies
2 small heads tender green lettuce
10 stalks of asparagus
2 handfuls fresh parsley or cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 four-inch cube feta
It’s likely that you have butter, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract, 4 eggs, balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, and pepper in your kitchen. If not, add those to list, too.
1. Preheat the oven to 325° F and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. In a double boiler (or a makeshift version), melt 10 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside until the mixture is just warm.
3. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Add 2 cold large eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add 1/2 cup of flour and beat vigorously for 40 strokes with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter. Let cool completely while you make dinner.
5. To soft-boil the eggs, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and gently lower in the eggs. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs, then remove the eggs and place them immediately in a small bowl of ice water. Peel the eggs underwater and carefully slice them into quarters.
6. Arrange the leaves from the lettuce on two plates. Cut the asparagus stalks into one-inch pieces and scatter over the lettuce. Make the dressing by whisking together 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a couple of squeezes of juice from the lemon, 2 tablespoons of honey, and the fresh herbs. Slowly add 2 generous splashes of olive oil, whisking until the dressing reaches the desired thickness. Sprinkle the dressing over the salads, crumble the feta on top, and top with the egg. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Enjoy salad for dinner and brownies for dessert.
Photos by James Ransom