Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Asparagus

It has been a year since I have last enjoyed you, though never fear, I have not allowed myself to forget you. Yes, I have danced and swooned with others in the last twelve months yet your slender delight was never far from my thoughts. I have dreamt about following you around the globe revelling in the pleasure of an eternal spring’s bounty.

I long for the season that is asparagus for I find it the most sensuous vegetable of the season. Perhaps, it is because you really should eat it with your fingers – nibbling down its stalk. Then it can be its sheer beauty either as it stands tall waiting to be taken home or splayed elegantly on a plate. Regardless, I am in the mood for love.

Buy asparagus that are firm with tips that are tight and not at all mushy. The cut bottom, if locally grown, will be fresh and not scabbed over. I preferred the thinnest of asparagus – no need to peel the stalk, and you just have to simply trim about an inch off the bottom and go. I store then in the refrigerator in a plastic container with a small amount of water to keep them crisp for a few days.

Blistered Asparagus - yields 6 servings
1-1/2 pound asparagus
1/4-cup olive oil
1/4-teaspoon salt - such as kosher or course sea salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1 lemon – juiced (about 1/4 cup)
3 ounces Goat Cheese - crumbled (alternatively Feta or Ricotta Salata)

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Trim the base of the asparagus and wash well cold running water. Pat the asparagus dry and then toss to coat with the oil. Lay the asparagus on a parchment paper lined baking tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of the asparagus. The pencil thin asparagus need to cook those only five minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese and drizzle with lemon juice. Serve warm or room temperature.




Tender tip piercing
Tight green leaves beckoning us
Tended in our gardens




Asparagus and Saffron Risotto - yields 6 to 8 servings
1/2-cup white wine
1/2-teaspoon saffron threads
1/2-cup olive oil
1 medium onion - finely diced
1-1/2 cups Aborio rice
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-pound asparagus
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup Parmesan cheese - grated

Crumble the saffron threads into the white wine.
Trim the asparagus ends and discard. Cut the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces. Reserve the tips separately.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus tips fpr one minute. Drain the tips and run under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Reserve them to the side to use as a garnish for the risotto.

Bring the stock to a boil.

Heat a thick lined four quart sauce pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion and cook over a low heat until soft and translucent. Add in the rice and cook for a few minutes to coat the rice well with oil. Start adding the hot stock, a ladle full at a time, stirring the rice mixture constantly. Keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed then add another ladle full. Continue in this manner until all the stock is incorporated, approximately 20 minutes. Just prior to adding the last ladle full stir in the saffron wine mixture and asparagus. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the Parmesan cheese, garnish with the asparagus tips and serve.

50 comments:

tupelohoney said...

I've been roasting asparagus for years- may have learned it from you! Way superior to steaming.
I think I'll try the cole slaw recipe this week.
This blog looks fun.

marlene said...

Nice new blog Richard! As one of your former students, I can attest to your passion for good, fresh ingredients. I too have been roasting asparagus for some time, although I usually drizzle a nice balsamic over it and sprinkle with fresh parmesan.

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