Friday, April 08, 2011

Catch it quick: spring fever and asparagus

Spring and all of its glory comes in such a wave of desire and need, and drenches us with gift after gift after gift.

I like noting the little things about the season, because there are so many and it's easy to take them for granted. They're also fleeting, and soon we move into the lush fullness of warm spring.

For now, we're still in the early days of spring here in Portland, Oregon. It's cold and brisk, and despite returning from a sunny trip to Florida for business, I about ran through the neighborhood the other evening, refusing to accept how cold it was. (I think it's my tan that makes me colder. And yes I'm ducking from the punch you're sending my way.)

Spring asparagus

Yesterday I had my first asparagus of the season. Don't get me wrong. I love fall and winter's root vegetables, and all of the roasting I've been doing. May I recommend a combination of parsnips and carrots? Dee-lish-ous. But as soon as good crisp asparagus comes in, flaunting its bright spring green colors and tangy fresh flavor, I'm completely smitten.

I've made asparagus shawls, and asparagus tart, and this year I'm thinking of blanching it for salads made with bulgar and olives, parsley and lemon juice. A little feta thrown in there for tang. Mix in some spring lettuce and arugula.

I'd love to hear your favorite things to do with one of my favorite vegetables: I need some new ideas. Favorite herbs to combine with it? I have tarragon in the garden right now, and lord knows I have chives.....


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Paula said...

I love asparagus too, enough to devote some space to a bed. We're enjoying home grown asparagus for the first time this spring.

Friday night we had fondue, and I cooked a few asparagus to serve with that. It's great dipped in melted cheese!

Then another of my favorites is a dish I ate in Germany. You par-cook the asparagus, place it on an oven proof dish (I use a porcelain platter), cover it with Westphalian ham or prosciutto, then Swiss cheese, and melt that in the oven. Sooooo good.

Anonymous said...

I once lived long enough in one place to harvest the asparagus I planted years earlier! Oh, I hope the current residents appreciate that asparagus bed! My favorites? Asparagus shawls (made with prosciutto); or simply steamed with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh-cracked black pepper;or barely steamed, then dropped on a bed of spring greens along with some mandarin orange slices and almonds. Ah, Spring!

Lee Ann

whimsy2 said...

I think it was Bittman in the NYTimes who suggested placing asparagus on a pice of parchment, adding some sliced raw mushrooms and a bit of torn-up prosciutto, drizzling with olive oil, closing the packet tightly and baking at 200 degrees for an hour and a quarter or so. Of course, he was much more precise. Well, maybe it wasn't Bittman. But it was definitely in the NYTimes. Delicious and easy.

KristaSwan said...

Oh, how we love asparagus!
For me, nothing beats asparagus on the grill: drizzled with olive oil and tossed with chunky salt and fresh ground pepper, then grilled to perfection. When I don't feel like grilling, I do the same under the broiler. However... I've learned to sit on the floor with a glass of wine and watch whatever is under the broiler.
Throw some shaved parmesan over the broiled asparagus for over-the-top goodness, but it's really not even needed.
Somehow, grilling or broiling it brings out some yummy nutty flavors that I love.

LeLo said...

Ooh such great ideas. Thank you thank you! I agree that asparagus in its simple form is delightful: grilled or broiled just to barely done but still nicely crisp. I shall report back!

Chris said...

I planted asparagus 10 years ago and now we get a steady harvest from mid-April thru June. It's so good and fresh that my favorite thing to do is just saute a spear or two to have with my morning eggs. My all-time favorite dinner recipe, an excellent way to show off Oregon in spring: lay asparagus in a roasting pan or casserole dish large enough to contain a side of salmon. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Lay the salmon skin side down on the asparagus, sprinkle with s&p, and roast at 450 for 20-25 minutes. Drizzle a vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, and capers over the salmon, then serve.