Recipes inspired by Musicals: Cats

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I know Cats the musical has gone out of style.  But whatever you think about basing a musical on people dressed as cats, you could do worse than using the charming poetry of T. S. Eliot.  My sister and I saw Cats when it first came to Toronto in 1985 in the beautifully refurbished Elgin Theatre.  All these years later, I’m amazed by how many snippets of songs I remember:

 “And when you hear a dining room smash
Or up from the pantry there comes a loud crash
Or down from the library comes a loud ping
From a vase that was commonly said to be Ming,
The family will say, ‘Now which was which cat?
It was Mungojerrie AND Rumpleteazer’
And there’s nothing at all to be done about that.”


“Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity
He’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in a square
But when the crime’s discovered, Macavity’s not there!”

But the cat that inspired this week’s post is the oldest – Gus the Theatre Cat:

“Gus is the cat by the theatre door
His name, as I ought to have told you before
Is really Asparagus, but that’s such a fuss
To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.”

(Also from memory.  It’s no wonder I can’t remember why I went upstairs, if I’m using all this brain space for Cats lyrics.)

I was looking for a simple and seasonal recipe to round out dinner recently, and this asparagus salad was perfect in all regards.  It’s incredibly easy and the flavours are so simple that the fresh asparagus shines through.  In fact, this salad is so good, it might replace some of those lyrics you’ve been storing in your brain for 28 years.

Asparagus Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
(adapted from

2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh marjoram or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp minced garlic

2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Mix balsamic vinegar, oil, mustard, marjoram and garlic.

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.  Add asparagus and bell pepper to dressing and toss to blend.  Sprinkle with pecans and serve.


Kitchen Riffs said...

Somehow I've never seen Cats. Weird, because it was such a smash hit. Anyway, reading about it is the next best thing! Fun post, truly nice recipe. Thanks so much.

Kathy said...

Your asparagus salad looks delectable…I’ll have to give it a try.
Fun post…loved remembering Gus the Theater Cat.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like a great new way to use asparagus. Thanks.

Valerie Gamine said...

Cats will never go out of style! :D (My personal favourite was/is Mr Mistoffelees!)

This salad looks light, and lovely - hurray for asparagus season!

Gloria Baker said...

I love cats and these asparagus look delicious!

Becki's Whole Life said...

I have been to that theatre before...Lion King or Beauty and the Beast maybe? Love this salad. My friend makes an asparagus salad with a soy dressing but I love this with the chopped nuts and red pepper - yummy!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, first of all I am a happy commentator (is that the right word?) today because I actually saw Cats twice - in Canada (Montréal) and I quite it enjoyed it both times. Secondly, it is so fun to see that you posted a recipe that I have been making for years now (even if my version is somewhat different), it is one if the best salads to prepare at this time of year, green asparagus salad with a balsamic dressing is one of my very favorites!
What a wonderful post!
Have a lovely Monday!

Belinda said...

What a classic. For some reason, a line from TS Eliot's Wasteland has stuck in my head...Mrs. Porter..."wash their feet in soda water".... have no idea why. Love this recipe!

Beth said...

Andrea, I'm so glad you love this recipe too! I just can't get enough of it.

And Belinda, your comment was timely, because my oldest daughter is studying for her university finals, and The Wasteland was one of her texts. I'm sure she has a few quotes stuck in her head too!

grace said...

it's always incredible to me just how many song lyrics we can file away in our brains! this is an awfully attractive dish, beth. :)

Joanne said...

My uncle did the lights for Cats for years but my dad would never let us go see it because he hated the show so much. I do like the song Memory though.

This asparagus salad sounds so refreshing!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

Believe it or not, I've never seen Cats! I'm surprised, too - we used to go to the theater all the time growing up. Either way, this salad looks absolutely amazing - what a perfect spring treat!

Unknown said...

Asparagus is so yummy! I lived in NYC, but never went to the Broadway shows. They were just so expensive, though I saw "La Cage Aux Folles" once. I guess I'm boring 'cause I prefer movies. *blush*

Paula Montenegro said...

It´s probably my least favorite musical, though some of the music is good. But the salad takes the spotlight! So fresh, seasonal and wonderful Beth!

Unknown said...

I remember Cats and thinking it was the coolest musical!!
Love your asparagus salad-just can't get enough fresh asparagus this time of year ;-)

Danielle's Sweets said...

Hi Beth,

I love how you inspire recipes from musicals! This one I have actually seen (and loved!)and is special to me because it's the first musical I ever went to. I remember seeing it in a beautiful theater in Boston and was awe struck! It was amazing and a great memory for me! xo

This asparagras salad looks delicious. A perfect spring salad! : )


Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

This asparagus looks delicious :D
And Cats is brilliant!

Choc Chip Uru

Katerina said...

I know the musical but I have never actually seen it! I used to hate asparagus because of their looks(stupid isn't it?) but now I love them and the dressing is very suitable!

Anonymous said...

I have a soft spot for Cats; I saw it roughly around the same time you did (though I don't remember the lyrics as well as you do). I have a soft spot for balsamic vinegar too!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I love the addition of balsamic vinegar! Yum!

Monet said...

What a perfect recipe for the lovely bunches of asparagus that are popping up at the market. I love Cats, and I think I always will! Thank you for sharing Beth!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Good reminder that it's time to eat more asparagus!

Post a Comment