Create: Good & Good for You


Happily this column is not about the vegetable of the moment, but instead about three other fine green offerings: asparagus, leeks and bok choy.

Photography by Cindy Momchilov


MyMy favorite asparagus recipe — pasta with asparagus and lemon vinaigrette — was included in the March 2011 issue (and is now available online in the recipe archive at under the “American” tab). So I went in search of something new and was pleased to find a recipe that included roasted asparagus and shiitake mushrooms. While working with the bok choy, I realized that some people knew what it was but did not know how to use it. Hopefully this flavorful recipe will remedy that!

Editor Angela Thomas, perpetually in search of recipes for her family’s suppers, and who loves leeks, found the leek with chickpeas recipe. Although at first glance it may seem a bit unusual, the classic combination of garlic and lemon once again brings together a number of disparate ingredients into a delicious dish.

The key caveat with all three of these vegetables — don’t overcook them. Be sure to stop the cooking while they are still bright green to preserve the texture and flavor.



Salmon and Bok Choy with Spicy Coconut Milk Sauce

(top photo; left)

Angela saw this recipe in O Magazine and was intrigued enough by the ingredients to try it. I subsequently used the bok choy portion in a kids’ cooking class where we served the results to parents. It received thumbs up in all cases. The recipe has been altered slightly to retain the bok choy’s crunchiness. Testers also suggested some tweaks to the seasonings, including sriracha, so feel free to experiment to your taste. Don’t skip the fresh basil as garnish!

Ingredients for Salmon and Bok Choy with Spicy Coconut Milk Sauce

Ingredients for Salmon and Bok Choy with Spicy Coconut Milk Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
  • 1 13.6-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head bok choy, about 1 pound, sliced and green leaves separated from white stalks
  • fresh basil for garnish

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper; cook until golden, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Cook red onion and bell pepper with a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper, stirring, until softened, for about 6 minutes. Add unsweetened coconut milk and lemon juice and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes.

Add bok choy stalks and simmer for 2 minutes. Add bok choy leaves and return salmon to skillet and simmer another 2 minutes; season to taste. Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.

Cook’s note: Baby bok choy or four medium-sized heads of bok choy can be used in this recipe. Do not slice, instead add them whole to the skillet and simmer 2 minutes before adding back the salmon.

Adapted from


Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

(top photo; right)

Asparagus pairs well with salty meats or cheeses, like prosciutto or blue cheese, and with acidic flavors like lemon or mustard. This recipe takes a different track and uses asparagus as a contrast to the creamy texture of risotto and shiitake mushrooms. Take the asparagus out of the oven while it is still bright green and crisp to avoid it becoming mushy.

Ingredients for Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients for Risotto with Roasted Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms

  • 3 cups vegetable broth, organic if possible
  • 1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ small white onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 pound thin to medium asparagus, tough ends snapped off
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring the broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan; lower heat and keep warm.

Heat 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan. Sauté mushrooms over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to a bowl. Heat the remaining butter and oil; sauté the onion/shallot over medium heat until soft. Add rice; turn the heat to medium high and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until rice is coated with butter, stirring well. Add wine and continue stirring. When the wine has evaporated, begin adding the warm broth, a half-cup at a time. Cook gently, stirring until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding the broth ladle by ladle, and stirring, until the mixture becomes thick and creamy and the rice is tender. This will take about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the asparagus and garlic into a shallow baking dish. Drizzle it with a spoonful of oil, salt and pepper, and turn to coat with oil. Roast at 425 for 12 minutes — asparagus should be tender but bright green. Remove from oven. Set aside.

When the rice is still al dente — it will be done in 1 to 2 minutes — add the mushrooms. Cook 1 minute longer, stir in the Parmesan, turn off the heat, cover and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Arrange roasted asparagus in the center of four plates. Top with risotto; serve immediately.



Leeks with Chickpeas and Lemon

The soft, sweetness of the leeks contrasts nicely with the firm texture of the chickpeas. This recipe is vegetarian/vegan without the shrimp and works either way.

  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and bruised, but whole
  • 1 6-inch branch of fresh rosemary, broken in two
  • 2 leeks, cleaned, trimmed with the white and light green parts sliced in ¼-inch rounds
  • coarse-grained salt, to taste
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • ¼ cup white wine, optional
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled, optional

In a large skillet, heat the oil, garlic and rosemary over medium heat. Once the garlic becomes fragrant and the rosemary begins to sizzle, remove rosemary, setting it aside for later.

Add the leeks to the pan, along with a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the leeks are soft and sweet but still brightly green, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the chickpeas, and continue to cook, stirring gently, for 4 more minutes.

Add the lemon zest to the pan, along with a squeeze of lemon juice, and stir gently to combine. Check the seasoning, adding more juice, zest or salt as needed. Turn the leeks onto a serving dish or bowl and keep warm in a 170-degree oven.

If including the shrimp, return the skillet to the stove, turn the heat to medium high; add the shrimp. Deglaze the pan with the wine; sauté the shrimp, turning occasionally, until they are firm, about 4 to 5 minutes. Arrange shrimp over the leeks. Garnish with the reserved rosemary sprigs. Serves four.


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