Grilled Asparagus with Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia has 283,000 people however, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) swells to 403,188 to include Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Lower Sackville, Cole Harbour.   For such a small city we are blessed to have attracted a slew of quality restauranteurs where the owners and chefs happily promote locally grown produce.  Many also promote Nova Scotian wineries which have garnered international acclaim.   The Winery Association of Nova Scotia was formed in 2002 to represent the interests of wine producers in Nova Scotia, to serve as a voice for local industry and to promote the growth and development of Nova Scotia wines.  This recipe is by Chef Craig Flinn co-owner of Chives Canadian Bistro.  Chives is a favorite of ours and Chef Flinn has 3 best-selling cookbooks; Fresh and Local (Straight from Canadian farms to your table),  Fresh Canadian Bistro (Top Canadian chefs share their favorite recipes), and Fresh and Frugal (Easy and affordable recipes for market-fresh local foods).  Click here to view or order Chef Flinn’s books.

Serves 4 – 6

adapted from Fresh & Local

1kg (2 lbs.) asparagus

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup (125ml) sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (see below)

fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

1/2 cup (125ml) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

1 shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce

1 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat stovetop grill or barbecue on high.  Clean asparagus and remove woody bottoms of the stems, then toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper.  It is important that the asparagus is kissed with the oil but not drowning in it, as that will cause flare-ups.  Grill asparagus for 5 to 6 minutes, turning constantly while grilling.

To serve, set asparagus on a platter and drizzle with 6 oz. (180ml) of the tomato vinaigrette and garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Vinaigrette:  Drain any excess oil from the tomatoes and pulse in a

food processor.  Add shallot, garlic, vinegar, basil, salt, sugar and hot sauce and purée on high until smooth.  Slowly add olive oil in a steady stream until vinaigrette emulsifies.  Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a month.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  If using dried tomatoes, soak in water to soften however, I enjoy the flavor more of those packed in oil.  You can also use an immersion hand blender like I did and the end result is a more rustic sauce.

Barbecue Chicken Quesadillas

Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favorite Mood. With a title like this, who could resist buying?  I started watching this young, spirited chef from down under back in 2007 when he and Ben O’Donoghue were in a cooking show called, Surfing The Menu.  This book showcases recipes that allow the cook to be with their friends and not spending more time in the kitchen than at the dinner table.  Cooking can be this easy and stress-free but sometimes even the most seasoned cook has experienced some sort of panic attack just before their guests are about to arrive (yours truly included!).  Curtis’ philosophy?  “To keep it simple and cook with naturally produced ingredients just as Mother Nature intended”.  Amen to that!

Serves 4
adapted from Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone

4 10-inch-diameter flour tortillas
2 cups coarsely shredded roast chicken
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese (or your favorite cheese)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 red jalapeño, finely chopped
1/4 cup purchased or homemade barbeque sauce

Place the tortillas on a work surface and divide the chicken, cheese, cilantro, and jalapeño among the bottom halves of each. Drizzle each with a tablespoon of barbecue sauce. Fold the uncovered tortilla over the filling to form a half moon shape. Heat a large flat non-stick pan over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas on the pan and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until the tortilla is crisp and golden and the cheese has melted. Transfer the quesadillas to a baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining 2 quesadillas. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and serve.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: A simple and quick meal oozing with flavors perfect for any night of the week!  Quesadillas are also great for appetizers.  Although they are Mexican in origin,  use your imagination and fill them with whatever strikes your fancy.  Try a vegetable quesadilla (cooked spinach with sautéed onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms) or turkey and balsamic onion quesadilla.


  1. Stephen on May 15, 2011 at 15:35

    This basic recipe is a standard in our kitchen. When I and tired I want something simple it is a tortilla filled with leftovers. I never really thought about a BBQ flavored version. I will have to give it a try.

  2. The Culinary Chase on May 15, 2011 at 20:49

    Thanks Stephen! I would never have thought to add bbq sauce to quesadillas but I have to admit it added a unique flavor. Cheers!

  3. Anonymous on May 16, 2011 at 15:27

  4. alana on May 16, 2011 at 17:29

    BBQ sauce thats a new one,but I cant wait to try it.These look great.

  5. park on May 26, 2011 at 07:01

    I always think very few inspiring blogs are exist on the web about Bbq Bristol. one of your blog impressed me. thanks for the great tip and share.