Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Easy Asparagus

Having promised easy...this one's for the more adventurous amongst you!  Asparagus tart...

Asparagus is a favorite vegetable because it's impossible to mess it up.  In fact, the less you muck around with it, the better it tastes.  Over the years, we've steamed, stir-fried, sauted and even grilled this distinctive, unassuming Spring vegetable -- but now conclude that roasting is the cooking method that brings out the best in asparagus. 

While asparagus is usually served with a lemony Hollandaise sauce, to our mind, lime knocks the socks off lemon as a pairing.  We're not suggesting that you try and make Hollandaise using limes - what a novel thought! - but rather try dousing your asparagus with a good squeeze of fresh lime juice and a smidgen of pepper and rock salt to dust your asparagus before you roast it in a hot oven (around 400) for 10 minutes or so.  A quick blast in the oven retains the crunchiness of the asparagus, while the lime gives it an unusual edge.  Many people enjoy grilled asparagus but, unless you keep a close eye on the grill, then the tops of the spears tend to get frazzled and quickly burn, particularly on the spindly young Spring asparagus that I prefer. 
So roasting's the way to go.

Another oh-so-easy idea for asparagus is to steam a bunch (either use a steamer or cheat and cover spears with water and cook in the microwave until it acquires the texture you prefer), allow to cool and then wrap with a small slice of proscuitto. 

If you like the flavor of black truffles then you can make this nifty appetizer even more memorable by drizzling a teensy amount of truffle-flavored oil on the proscuitto spear, or another option, serve with your favorite dip - I'm currently infatuated with a ricotta truffle dip...

Our friend in the U.K., Jenny Cowell, who is an adventurous cook and likes to share both her successes (and failures) on Facebook, baked and photographer a truimphant asparagus tart using pre-made filo or puff pastry and Spring spears.  Ravishing.

The first ever Asparagus King - newly crowned in the U.K.  But is that a cowboy hat he's sporting..?
While we're talking about life on the other side of the pond, we wanted to bring your attention to the British Asparagus Festival which is running from April to end of June in a quaint little village in the U.K., called Evesham.  At the Festival launch - on St George's Day naturally enough - all sorts of merriment was had.  Apparently festival organizers have created an online petition to replace the traditional symbol of England from the red rose, which dates back to the War of the Roses (1455-1487), to the asparagus.  If you feel strongly enough about the noble asparagus then join their campaign...

1 comment:

Ben said...

Wow. I have some asparagus and a lime. I love it when I see something on the internet that I want to make and I have everything for it. I will make it and post how it comes out.