Asparagus on Toast with Smoky Cauliflower Sauce

Asparagus on Toast smallRecipe by Zel Allen from Vegetarians in Paradise
March 2014

Simply fresh and elegant are the words that best describe this delicious light lunch or dinner dish. When fresh asparagus is in season, I find myself gravitating to recipes that really show off this exceptionally delicious vegetable. Because the dish is so attractive, it gives the eyes an opportunity to enjoy the dining experience as well as the very receptive taste buds.  The fresh asparagus season is rather brief, about 2 to 3 months, so take advantage and enjoy its low calories, high level of antioxidants, vitamins C, A, and K.

Yield: 4 servings

Cauliflower Sauce
2 cups water
1 medium head cauliflower, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into florets

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon hickory smoke flavoring
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1 1/4 pounds fresh asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1 large tomato, cut into four slices
4 slices high-fiber, whole-grain bread
2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
1 slice tempeh bacon, diced (optional)

1.    To make the cauliflower sauce, combine the water and cauliflower in a 4-quart saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for 7 to 9 minutes, or until very soft.
2.    Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked cauliflower to a food processor. Freeze the cooking liquid for homemade soup stock.
3.    Add the lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, smoke flavoring, turmeric, pepper, and cayenne to the processor and process until smooth and creamy. Cover and keep warm.
4.    To prepare the asparagus, put the asparagus in a large deep skillet with about 1 cup water. Cover the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and steam for about 2 minutes. Fork test for tenderness. Don't overcook.
5.    Meanwhile, put the tomato slices on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.
6.    Toast the bread briefly.
7.    To assemble Asparagus on Toast, put 1 slice of bread on each of 4 dinner dishes and top with a slice of broiled tomato. Divide the asparagus spears among the dishes, placing about 4 or 5 spears over the tomato slices. Spoon some of the sauce over the asparagus.
8.    Garnish with the chopped green onions and tempeh bacon, if using Serve with a knife and fork.