Asparagus

Asparagus

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Asparagus is one of the very first spring messengers of the garden, poking out of moist soil to mark the beginning of the growing season. Possessing distinctive and delicious flavor, asparagus is also high in vitamins A, B-complex, and C, and minerals potassium and zinc. Asparagus season is short so enjoy it thoroughly while it’s here!

How to Prepare:

Snap off or remove with a knife the bottommost woody part of the spear and rinse.

How to Store:

Wrap asparagus in a damp cloth and store in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator. An alternate storage technique to retain vitality is to bundle spears with a rubber band and place upright in a container with an inch of water. Refrigerate immediately and use as soon as possible. The sugars in asparagus will turn rapidly to starches, reducing flavor quickly.

How to Cook:

Asparagus is best cooked simply. Enjoy raw, steamed, or boiled.

Information adapted from From Asparagus to Zucchini

Recipes

White Bean and Asparagus Salad with Tarragon-Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces dried white beans or 2 cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
  • Salt
  • 2 bay leaves, if using dried beans
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • ½ cup tarragon leaves
  • 1 teaspoon packed finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil

Preparation

If using canned beans, drain and rinse. If using dried beans, soak in plenty of water for 6 hours or overnight. Drain beans and transfer to a medium pot. Cover beans by 2 inches with water and add 1-½ teaspoons salt and the bay leaves. Simmer until just tender but not at all mushy, about 45 minutes to 1-½ hours, depending upon what kind of beans you’re using. Drain.

Break off tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice and cold water. Blanch trimmed asparagus for 1-½ minutes, or until just cooked through but still firm, then plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Pat dry and slice diagonally into ½ -inch pieces.

In a blender or food processor, combine tarragon, lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper and the lemon juice, and process until garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil. Process until mixture is well blended and bright green, about 1 minute. In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together beans, asparagus and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.

Recipe courtesy of The New York Times

 

Warm Farro Salad With Asparagus, Peas, and Feta

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2-¼ cups), divided
  • Pinch dried red chili flakes, or more as desired
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup farro
  • 1 quart homemade vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 bunch kale, trimmed, washed, and cut into 2-inch ribbons (about 1-½ cups)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • 4 scallions thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
  • ½ cup crumbled feta

Preparation

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan until shimmering. Add 2 cups of asparagus and chili flakes, and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In the same saucepan, add the farro and stock and bring to a simmer.

Season with salt and cook until farro is tender, about 30 minutes; add water if necessary to keep farro covered. Drain farro and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in peas and kale and let stand until peas are tender and kale is wilted.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil along with the lemon juice and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Fold vinaigrette into farro, add the cooked asparagus, almonds, scallions, feta, and remaining 1/4 cup raw asparagus. Let stand 5 minutes, then toss and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Serious Eats

 

Grilled Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup ricotta
  • ½ bunch asparagus, grilled
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • Herb Oil
  • Basic Grilled Pizza Dough
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

Preparation

Heat it up: Set up a grill with heat source, coals or gas, on one side over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill.

Stretch it: On a lightly floured work surface, stretch or roll 1 piece Basic Grilled Pizza Dough or 4 ounces store-bought dough into a 10-inch-long oval or other desired shape. Brush one side lightly with Herb Oil or olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill it: Using your hands, place dough, oiled side down, directly over heat source. Brush dough with herb oil or olive oil and cook until underside is lightly charred and bubbles form all over top, 1 to 2 minutes. With tongs, flip dough and cook until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide dough to cooler side of grill.

Top it: Top with ricotta cheese, lemon zest and asparagus; cover grill. Cook until cheese melts and toppings are heated through, 2 to 5 minutes. Drizzle with herb oil before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

 

Asparagus Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 bunches pencil asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-½ inch pieces
  • 1 cup thawed, frozen peas or 1 cup shelled fresh English peas (about 1 pound unshelled)
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • Four ⅛ -inch slices day-old sourdough bread (about 3 ounces)
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1-½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • One 3-ounce wedge Parmesan
  • Creme fraiche
  • Finely chopped fresh chives
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. For the soup: In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, bring the oil to medium heat. Add the shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Sweat until translucent, about 1 minute, being careful not to brown. Add the asparagus to the pot and sweat until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the peas and sweat another minute. Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pot. Add 5 cups water and continue simmering until crisp-tender, another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Working in batches (and carefully as the liquid will be hot), puree the soup until smooth in a blender. In the last batch, add the baby spinach and puree; this will give the soup a vibrant green color. Strain back into the pot through a fine mesh sieve. Return to a simmer until slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

For the Parmesan breadcrumbs: While the soup simmers, pulse the bread in a food processor until you have very coarse crumbs. Once processed, transfer the breadcrumbs to a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil. Toss with the thyme. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet tray. Using a grater, finely grate a few tablespoons of Parmesan over the breadcrumbs. Place into the oven and bake until golden and crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

To serve: Ladle the soup into shallow serving bowls. Sprinkle evenly with a few teaspoons of Parmesan breadcrumbs and top with a dollop of creme fraiche. Garnish with chopped chives, cilantro leaves, a squeeze of a lime wedge and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately. When blending hot liquids, first let cool for 5 minutes or so, then transfer to a blender, filling only halfway. Put the lid on, leaving one corner open; this will prevent the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Cover the lid with a kitchen towel to catch splatters and pulse until smooth.

Recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri

 

Spring Antipasto Platter

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches small spring onions or scallions
  • Salt
  • 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound, tough ends removed
  • ½ pound sugar snap peas
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced crosswise into ⅛-inch-thick rings
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, salame, mortadella or lardo
  • Flaky sea salt or fleur de sel
  • Black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Basil or mint leaves
  • 1 pound fior di latte, bufala mozzarella, burrata or fresh ricotta, at cool room temperature

Preparation

Heat the broiler. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Trim tops, roots and outer layer of spring onions, then arrange in one layer on a broiler pan. Broil until they are lightly charred on one side, 2 to 3 minutes, then turn and broil the other side until onions have softened a bit, about 3 minutes more. (It’s fine if they become blackened in spots.) Remove pan and let cool to room temperature.

When water boils, salt well and submerge asparagus. Cook briefly, about 2 minutes for medium spears. Lift asparagus from water and spread in 1 layer on a kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature. Repeat process with the sugar snap peas and spread them on a separate kitchen towel.

Arrange spring onions, asparagus, snap peas and fennel on a large platter. Drape prosciutto around the edge. Season vegetables lightly with sea salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish platter with basil or mint leaves. Put cheese on a small cutting board and pass separately. (Alternatively, compose individual plates with all components.)

Recipe courtesy of The New York Times