The holidays are upon us and in full force. Christmas music can be heard in almost any store I walk into, holiday lights adorn many of the houses in my neighborhood, my kids are gearing up for our our annual cruise down Santa Clause Lane (more on that later), and I am near the finish line on making and completing all my holiday gifts. We have been invited to several parties, been to friends for intimate dinners, my boys have created and decorated cookies with our neighbors and we have done our own fair share of entertaining. Yet, while me, my family and my community share all the joys that the holidays bring, many children are not afforded the same good fortune. Many kids go to bed hungry, wake up hungry and go to school hungry.
We, as Americans, are fully aware of the poverty and famine in surrounding, third world countries. However, not much has been said about the nearly 17 million(about 1 in 4) children that go hungry each year. Until now! Share our Strenght, a non-profit, is working tirelessly to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. I first became aware of SOS last April when I participated in a “bloggers bake sale” organized by my pal, Gaby. I was immediately in love with the organization and wanted to do whatever I could to help.
So, when SOS asked me to participate, with a group of my friends and fellow bloggers, in a virtual, progressive, potluck fundraising dinner, I was both honored and humbled. Traditional progressive dinners last one night. This progressive dinner will last 9 nights, which started on December 6th and ends on December 14th. Friends of mine, like Deliciously Organic, Devour the World, Family Fresh Cooking, Food Woolf, Ladles and Jellyspoons, Three Many Cooks, The Italian Dish, and What’s Gaby Cooking are all creating dishes for a 7 course meal to raise awareness and money for this fabulous cause.
We were all given the choice to pick our category. I didn’t pick the obvious(dessert), I went with another favorite; side dishes. I love sides. When ordering my main course in a restaurant, my decision usually hinges on what sides are served with it. I am in the process of reading several cookbooks. I wanted to draw my inspiration from one of these books. I choose a very simple, vegetable side dish from Ad Hoc at Home.
I choose to make the asparagus and tomato-bacon stew (pg.193) because I wanted something light and I wanted something that would compliment a traditional, Italian-style Christmas Eve dinner. Every year, we spend Christmas Eve with our friends and their three kids. My friends mom is oh-so very Italian and boy can she cook. Big vats of marinara sauce bubbles on the stove, the meatballs are the size of tennis balls, big trays of baked ziti bake in the oven, and the smell of the garlic bread permeates throughout the house. They usually give me free reign on what to make. This year I will bring this delicious side and some Grandma Rose’s Butter Cookies with red and green m & m’s.
This is one of those dishes that can be eaten all year around. The sauce could for this dish would work with almost any green veggie and it only took minutes to prep.
To donate to Share our Strength, go here.
Asparagas and tomato-bacon stew
3 oz. thick cut bacon, cut into 1″ x 1/4″ lardons
2 Tbls. coarsley chopped leeks, white part only
2 Tbls. onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
kosher salt + pepper
one 14-oz can San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 1/2 lbs. large asparagas, trimmed and peeled
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls. chicken stock
• prepare all your ingredients
• pour 2 tablespoons water into a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. add the bacon and reduce heat and let bacon render for 30 minutes. transfer bacon to paper towels using a slotted spoon. save bacon fat.
• keep 2 tablespoons in pan, reserve the rest of the bacon fat, and add the leeks, onions, garlic and stir to coat. add salt and pepper to taste. cook for 5-7 minutes or until the veggies are soft. add the tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 45 minutes.
• transfer half the mixture to a mini chopper and process until puree. add back into pan. cook for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. stir in the bacon and reduce the heat to low.
• heat a large frying pan, that could hold half the asparagas in a single layer over medium low heat. pour a film of the reserved bacon fat or some canola oil into the pan and lay the asparagus over the fat. add 3 tablespoons of stock and some salt. cook until tender, about 7 minutes. repeat with the other half of the asparagus.
• lay a layer of sauce on a your platter. layer your asparagus over the sauce and top with remaining sauce. sprinkle with a little fresh parm and some good olive oil.
The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com
To view the whole meal, click here
December 13: Sides