Cake, Batter, and Bowl

Asparagus Arugula Salad with Ricotta and Goat Cheese

Salads, Travel

Time for our anniversary trip recap! Apolinaras and I got married over Memorial Day weekend in 2004 and we always try to take a little vacation over the holiday weekend to celebrate. This year we went to Portland, Maine, which is a super fun foodie destination right on the ocean. We headed up on Saturday and started our adventure by leisurely checking out the Kittery Outlets, which are about halfway between Boston and Portland. I scored the cutest mini trifle dishes and French onion soup bowls at Crate and Barrel, which will definitely be making an appearance soon!

We were famished after all our hard work shopping, so drove over to the Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier, where we chowed down on New England classics – lobster rolls, clam chowder, corn, and exceptionally fresh mussels steamed in white wine. Mmm, just thinking about this meal makes my mouth water! The staff was really friendly and we definitely plan to go back when we’re in the area again.

Of course, by the time we got to Portland and checked in our hotel (we stayed at the Portland Harbor Hotel, which had a fantastic central downtown location and very lovely rooms – I recommend it!), we were hungry again. Luckily, I had already asked for some restaurant recommendations on twitter and was armed with Adrienne’s reply – “555 is great, Frog and Turtle (in nearby westbrook) is my fave, and I’ve heard good things about Nosh.” Since we were craving a few beers, we headed to Nosh Kitchen Bar for a few local microbrews and sandwiches. Nosh is in the Arts District and I thoroughly enjoyed my Nosh Burger (pork and beef patty/blue cheese/bacon/fried egg/roast garlic jam/brioche bun) and Apolinaras liked his duck gyro. Our waitress also had some fantastic beer recommendations (from Allagash and the Maine Beer Company), so we left feeling very satisfied.

The next day we rolled out of bed, snuck in a little time at the gym, and had breakfast at Becky’s Diner, which is a sentimental favorite of ours because we had breakfast there a few years ago during our anniversary trip up to Bar Harbor. The blueberry pancakes hit the spot!

We spent the afternoon wandering around the (windy!) harbor and city and also did a tasting at the Shipyard Brewing Company. I was really looking forward to this because I love their blueberry beer, but I would probably skip it next time and just go straight to Allagash (which we visited the next day!).

Our next stop didn’t disappoint though – we checked out Duckfat. I could have seriously eaten a boatload of their fries, which as the restaurant name implies, are fried in duck fat and phenomenal – yum! They have a variety of dipping sauces and both Apolinaras and I were happy with our respective choices of Thai Chili Mayo and Truffled Ketchup. Although the sandwiches were pretty tasty as well, next time we’d just go back for beer and fries!

After stuffing ourselves with fries, we wandered back to the hotel to freshen up and I did a little leisurely blogging while enjoying some wine.

For dinner we visited Five fifty-five, where Apolinaras feasted on creamy five onion soup, wild boar ragu, and carrot cake ice cream, and I had an asparagus salad, their signature truffled lobster mac and cheese (incredible – I savored every bite!), and a smores dessert. I definitely want to attempt to recreate the mac and cheese at some point, but the first thing I did when we got home was actually make a twist on the salad. It was described on the menu as featuring “baby arugula, charred asparagus, house ricotta, salt roasted almonds, pickled vidalias, and truffle vinaigrette.” What I especially loved about it was that there was a smear of ricotta cheese underneath the salad, so you could get some in every bite. I’ve never seen this before and thought it was just genius. So, last weekend I made my own version of their salad with a ricotta and goat cheese spread underneath a pile of arugula and asparagus. I did lightly dress the greens with a lemon vinaigrette, but the cheese is the star of this salad. I’ll recap the rest of our trip in my next post!

Asparagus Arugula Salad with Ricotta and Goat Cheese
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch long pieces (I had 4 cups cooked)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bunches arugula (7 ounces after chopping off the stems)
1/2 cup toasted chopped almonds
4 ounces goat cheese
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

Directions:
Heat oven to 400˚F. Place asparagus on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast at 400˚F for 8 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium nonstick skillet. Sauté onions for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender.

Mix remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until well blended. Place arugula, roasted asparagus, cooked red onions, almonds, and dressing in a large bowl and toss until well mixed.

To serve, mix goat cheese, ricotta cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until smooth. Spread ricotta cheese mixture evenly onto six plates. Top evenly with salad, making sure part of the ricotta mixture is still showing. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition: 287 calories, 22.8g fat, 3.5g fiber, 12.6g protein per serving
Cost: $2.18 per serving

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