With all the traveling and long work hours I’ve been keeping up with lately, I haven’t been paying much attention to what I’ve been eating. I’ll just kind of eat whatever’s around because I’ve been so focused on work that I haven’t really put any thought into meal planning. The result of this has been dinners composed of 5 slices of salami, or jam and cheese on toast for both breakfast and lunch (sad, but true). Now that the cookbook is pretty much finished, I’ve been trying to get back into feeding myself properly and on a regular schedule. I’ve also been contemplating cutting down on the meat in my diet after our Asheville workshop, where we had vegetarian meals nearly the entire time, and I honestly felt a lot less groggy and weighed down after the long weekend. So when Gardein approached me about doing a sponsored post with some of their products, I was pleasantly surprised by the appropriate timing.
I decided to make their chick’n sliders, and I made a caramelized green onion, grape, rhubarb, & pine nut spread to go on top of them along with fresh sheep’s cheese. Now, I know it sounds like I just said a whoooole lot of ingredients that don’t really go together, but let me explain the wonder of this spread. So the green onions are sliced only up until the onion-y part, not the bright hollow green part, and they’re sautéed in butter and olive oil until they start to soften and turn a bit golden. Then the rhubarb, grapes, and pine nuts are added and they all start to break down and soften in the pan. The onions become wonderfully sweet, while the rhubarb adds a sour tang to the mix, and the grapes add their own sweet and sour contribution. The pine nuts soften in the oil and become little rich bursts of nutty flavor within the mixture. I added a splash of sherry vinegar to bump the tanginess up a notch, and the result was a wonderfully sweet and sour spread that goes SO GOOD with cheese. I used fresh sheep’s cheese on these burgers because it’s moist and crumbly and has a really subtle flavor, but you could also use chèvre if you want it to be a bit tangier, or a soft cow’s milk cheese like cream cheese.
For the salad I made roasted asparagus and tossed it with snap peas, micro greens, and Gardein’s chick’n strips that I’d sautéed on the stovetop. I drizzled it all with an olive oil and sherry vinegar-based dressing with a pinch of dried dill, whose lightly sour flavor contrasted perfectly with the crunchy snap peas, succulent chick’n, and the savory roasted asparagus. If you’ve never used micro greens, don’t be intimidated, they’re basically just a bunch of baby seedlings that you can buy at natural grocery stores that actually come in a little pot of soil. You just trim them off to make the salad, and water it to keep it alive long enough to get a good harvest off of it before the seedlings turn into actual plants. The result of this effort was an incredibly delicious seasonal meal that was layered with different flavors and textures, and left me full but not weighed down at the end. Perfect for the warmer weather of spring, although I’ll definitely be making the dip throughout the rest of the year and straight up slathering it on cheese and crackers, and I highly recommend that you do the same.
1/2 cup micro greens
Chick’n Sliders with Caramelized Green Onion Spread & Fresh Sheep’s Cheese
For the salad, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the asparagus with 2 teaspoons olive oil and black pepper and spread them out in an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the asparagus have deepened in color and wrinkled slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
Prepare the chick’n strips by sautéing them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat until cooked through and lightly golden on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Whisk together the sherry vinegar, salt, sugar, black pepper, dill, and remaining tablespoon olive oil to make the salad dressing. Toss together the roasted asparagus, chick’n strips, snap peas, and micro greens until combined. Right before serving, add the dressing and toss to coat.
For the sliders, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahreheit. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced green onions and sauté until completely softened and barely turning light gold around the edges, breaking the rings apart with the end of your spoon as they cook, about 8 minutes. Add the grapes, rhubarb, pine nuts, and sherry vinegar and sautee until the rhubarb is nearly disintegrated, the grapes have turned mushy and soft, and the onions are deeply golden, about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the pinch of salt, then set it aside.
While the onion mixture is cooking, place the chick’n patties on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, adding the buns during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Remove and place 1 tablespoon of sheep’s cheese on the bottom bun, then place the patty on top, then another tablespoon of sheep’s cheese, and then a heaping tablespoon or two of the caramelized green onion spread. Cap with the top bun and repeat with the remaining sliders. Serve immediately alongside the salad.