On a recent trip to my most favorite place, Charleston, South Carolina, my friends and I had a great afternoon visiting Fort Sumter and walking around the beautiful, historical city. We ventured down Cannon Street into a funky little part of town to visit Sugar Bakeshop. We'd heard about their yummy cupcakes, mint sun tea, and relaxing walled garden. We weren't disappointed. The cupcakes were moist and just sweet enough and the tea was a great way to cool off. As an added bonus, co-owner Bill Bowick, who moved to Charleston and started Sugar with his partner, David Bouffard, after 17 years as New York City architects, recommended we check out Five Loaves Cafe for lunch. He was spot on.
We all enjoyed every bit of our lunches. I had a great ham and brie sandwich sandwich with green tomato jam and a salad composed of summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and asparagus with a delicious balsamic-garlic dressing. The salad was such a standout. After just a couple of bites, I knew I'd be recreating it for a Meatless Monday selection. I took what I remembered from my lunch at Five Loaves and added a few things I would enjoy back in my own kitchen.
The recipe makes enough dressing for six to eight salads. I've simply listed the other ingredients so you can adjust the amounts to your tastes and the number of people you're serving.
Tomato, Mozzerella, and Asparagus Salad
inspired by Five Loaves Cafe
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
roasted red peppers, chopped
red onion, thinly sliced
tomatoes, chopped (I used yellow for color)
fresh mozzerella, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
1. Place oil, garlic, rosemary, and pepper in a small saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat until fragrant. Turn off burner and allow oil to cool to room temperature. Whisk in balsamic vinegar. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator, up to one week.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water and trim asparagus spears. When water is boiling, blanch asparagus until bright green in color, about 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness of spears. Remove and immediately shock in ice water to stop cooking. When cooled, remove, pat dry, and cut into two-inch pieces.
3. In a large serving bowl or individual bowls, arrange desired amount or greens. Top with asparagus pieces, roasted peppers, onions, and tomatoes. Drizzle dressing over the salad. Top with mozzarella and serve.