By Crystal Grobe

Getting started is sometimes the most difficult part of a cycle. Take this year’s growing season for example. It was so tough to get started, not for lack of trying, but for lack of warmth. Now that the temperatures have risen and the ground has enough (and sometimes too much) moisture, the familiar produce of our growing season has started to pop up in both fields and markets.

Last weekend I headed to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market for the first time this year to grab asparagus. In years past, I would simply drive down to Lorence’s Berry Farm in Northfield and buy pounds of it to not only use in my own kitchen but to deliver to friends and family as well. Since I’ve moved away from the farms, it has been fun to visit markets more frequently for fresh produce throughout the season.

Knowing that asparagus works well in both warm and cold salads, I threw together a lentil salad using the last bit of ramps in my fridge, fresh basil from my garden and the recently purchased asparagus. Topped with two poached eggs, it turned out to be an amazing lunch. I ate this cold, but it can also be served immediately and eaten while warm. If you can’t find ramps, feel free to substitute leeks or onions for an equally tasty dish.

Lentil, Ramp, and Asparagus Salad
Serves 4

1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and sorted
5 slices of bacon, chopped
1 bunch ramps, chopped
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch slices
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 cups spinach
8 large eggs, poached
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan, add lentils and enough water to cover by 2-inches. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 20-25 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp and drain over paper towels. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease and fry ramps and asparagus until tender. Remove from heat, add lentils and toss to incorporate. Add apple cider vinegar and basil and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, poach eggs and set aside.

To serve, line plates with spinach, add lentil mixture, and top with 2 poached eggs. Add additional vinegar or olive oil as desired.


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