Yesterday, my little sister turned 25. Employing the best dad joke in all history, I asked her if she felt any different on her birthday than she had the day before. She laughed and said no, except that she feels like now that she’s left her early 20s and finds herself in her mid-20s, she feels like she needs to “get her shit together.” I’d like to note that she — my angelic younger sister who has always been the sweeter, more loveable of the two of us — used the word “shit.” I am just quoting her, she is a potty mouth and I am nothing more than an innocent bystander reporting her depravity.
As someone had already pointed out to her, my sister has her shit together. She has a masters degree and is great at her job — I mean, her boss got her a $50 gift card recently as a “thank you” for her excellent work. I have never heard of an employee being so grateful as to purchase a gift for an adult co-worker just to thank them for doing their job. She’s basically killin’ it. She’s smart and beautiful and funny and sassy. And if you want a portrait of someone with her shit together: she doesn’t have any major debts, she’s responsible, she’s clean, she ran a half marathon last year, she’s a good driver (and she has a really cute zippy little Volvo that I love), and I would bet that her credit score is really good. So turning 25 shouldn’t change much for her shit-together-ness-wise.
But our phone call made me question whether I have my shit together. (Yup, now I’m just using the word. I couldn’t keep up the charade of being the adorable sister any longer. It was exhausting.) Real talk: my shit is also mostly together. I am not a good driver, but I live in New York so it’s a non-issue, and I know my credit score is good. And I have been generally feeling like a card-carrying grown-up lately, except that I recently announced that I’m going on a diet and my new diet is called No More Afternoon Pastries, And Bagels Only On Weekends. It’s the next South Beach, people, and I’m going to make millions on the book deal.
This salad is so grown-up and responsible that it outweighs my childish diet and proves I also have my shit together. I brought the salad for lunch a few days last week and it was fantastic — it’s healthy, springy and fresh, and not too heavy. And filling enough that I didn’t cave for a 3 p.m. croissant (though I did get a brownie one day because, hello, the firm was buyin’ and I just really wanted one, which is an acceptable reason to break within the NMAPABOOW diet). And making pesto from asparagus really changed things for me. It came out creamier than I expected and I saved the pretty roasted asparagus tips to mix into the salad, which kept the texture of the salad interesting. So happy birthday, sister. We’re doin’ a-okay.
- 1 c. millet
- 1 batch asparagus pesto (recipe below)
- The tips reserved from the asparagus pesto
- 1 chopped tomato
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- ½ c. whole, raw walnuts
- ½ c. fresh-grated parmesan cheese
- ½ c. olive oil
- 4 or 5 cloves garlic
- 10 leaves of fresh basil
- Make 1 cup of millet according to package instructions (I just threw 1 cup of millet and 2 cups of water into my rice maker) and toss with 1 batch of asparagus pesto (recipe below), the asparagus tips reserved from the asparagus pesto, and 1 chopped tomato. Season with salt and pepper, and serve room temperature (or cold, but I preferred it at room temp).
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and line them up in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and a fat pinch of salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20 minutes until the asparagus is dry and puckered.
- When the asparagus is roasted, cut the tips off and reserve them for the salad -- they should be about an inch and a half long. Roughly chop the asparagus spears and toss them into a food processor.
- While the asparagus roasts, toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium high heat. Keep an eye on them -- they will go from lightly browned to black very quickly. As soon as you can smell the walnut oils, they are done. Set them aside to cool, and then add them to the food processor.
- Process together the garlic, cheese, olive oil, basil, roasted asparagus spears, and toasted nuts until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.