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Asparagus

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Asparagus is a vegetable that I'm not very familiar with. Sure, I've seen 'em in the market, and even have a few recipes for cooking them, but have only eaten them once or twice, and that was someyears ago (1981 to be precise). I've promised myself to eat more unfamiliar vegetables this year, so it's time to ask about the first vegetable on my list.

How do you tell if a bunch of asparagus is really fresh? Are thinner spears more tender or flavorful than thicker spears? Since I want to eat locally grown produce, what's the peak season for asparagus, especially on the west coast of the US?

Finally, does anybody have some good ideas for cooking asparagus simply? I'd like to see all suggestions, but in truth my interest is not too strong for recipes and ideas that contain heavy cream sauces, or which are heavy in fat, salt, sugar.

I could see adding a few spears to fritatas and omelets, mixed in with brown rice, or perhaps in a light stir fry. Any thoughts on these ideas?

Thanks,

scb
post #2 of 15
I prefer the thin stalks because there just isn't as much waste. When prepping the stalks for cooking, you take the root end and bend it back until it snaps and the upper part is usually tender while the lower end will be more tough and woody. The bigger it is, the more tough part. I'm not in Cali but I'm thinking spring is the season. I know that's when the prices drop in the area grocery stores. I've never seen asparagus for sale in our small farmer's markets or roadside stands but then again, they don't usually open until June or so.

My favorite way to cook it is to saute in a little olive oil with lemon pepper seasoning and just at the end a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. My kids love it and I never have enough at meal time. We've also cooked it on the outdoor grill a few times. I've marinated it in a roasted red pepper vinaigrette which was good but it's aggravating having it rolling around the grill.
post #3 of 15
I like green asparagus, although white asparagus is more popular in France.

I like to griddle it and serve with a sprinkling of olive oil and sea salt.
I also like to take two spears, wrap stalks (but not the head) in pancetta and brush with a little olive oil and griddle on a ridged pan until tender.
post #4 of 15

The king of vegetables

The tips are the first to deteriorate, they are quite delicate and need to be intact and vibrant in colour. Thinner spears are more tender and need less cooking but I dont find much difference in the flavour between thick and thin. I love this vegetable but I'm afraid my preferred recipes are all cholestoral nightmares, Hollandaise sauce, or melted butter and parmesan shavings. They dont need much cooking, for a 1/2 inch diameter spear I would blanch in boiling water for about 3 mins. We are just at the start of the asparagus season in England and they are delicious. How about wrapped in Parma ham and roasted?
post #5 of 15
only way I really eat it is on a baking sheet or glass pyrex EV olive oil heavy, some garlic, S&P and some fresh grated parm. reggiano. in a hot oven until tender. Serve at room temp is what is recommended. very simple.

post #6 of 15

Fave!

One of my favorites! There's plenty to do with them. The simplest is to boil until tender, and drizzle with....

- olive oil and salt
- vinegraitte
- garlic sauce (1 head of garlic, 1-2 lemons, and tsp of salt in the food processor, slowly drizzle 3 tbsp evoo while the fp is on) Pungent but very healthy and delicious

Roasted - out in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Salad
Boil until tender, then cut into inch long pieces. Toss with chopped proscuitto and an aoili dressing.

Risotto - plenty of asparagus risotto recipes out on the net, check out especially Mario Batali recipies.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 15
Shel, I like the thicker ones. To trim, I gently push the blade of my knife against the stalk, starting at the end. When the blade goes through wtihout a lot of pressure, that's where I trim.

I slice the thick stalks diagonally at about 1" intervals. Then I steam them or zap them with a little water in the microwave. Then I "butter" them (Smart Balance margarine) and season with sea salt and pepper. Sometimes I use Knorr Aromat seasoning on this, as I do on other veggies and eggs. It's a guilty pleasure- guilty since I read the ingredients list. :rolleyes:

I like several of Mapiva's preparations, too: dressed with a light vinaigrette or grilled on the outdoor grill, which I did a couple of nights ago.
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post #8 of 15

mmmm fresh asparagus

its lovely raw in a salad with a lemon and thyme vinergrette

or lightly cooked on a grill with a little olive oil and black pepper
roasted in the oven with vine tomatoes,
the ends are quite woody and you break those off and can used them in a stock
asparagus is wonderful made in to a cream soup with some dill
as for the fresh thing they should look fresh and crisp and as if they are soldiers standing to attention , if they look a bit droopy they are getting past it
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when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires

www.theunknownchef.com
www.theunknownchef.co.nz
www.shoebridge.co.nz
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post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the ideas, gang. I know I will try some soon, once I find some great asparagus.

shel
post #10 of 15
My favorite time to eat asparagus is before I have to take a pee test. Just kidding :crazy:

IMO less is more regarding seasoning, though I think garlic is a special friend of asparagus.
post #11 of 15

Jamie Oliver

Did anyone catch today's show of Jamie at Home with Jamie Oliver? Every recipe I've ever tried of his has been spectacular.

Today's show was all about... asparagus! Here's what I learned:

When grilling asparagus grill it dry with no olive oil, otherwise it tends to get a little bitter. Dress it after it's done with a chervil vinegraitte.

For white asparagus tie in a bundle, chop the ends off and stand the bundle up in a pot. Fill with salted water up until under the flowerets. Bring to a boil, cover, turn off the burner, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Serve with a compound butter made with finely chopped mint, salt, and lemon.

I'm running out to get ingredients for the amazing asparagus phyllo tart he made.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #12 of 15
Asparagus and stilton quiche is a classic.
Blanche the asparagus and shock after 3 mins in iced water. Cut off the heads and chop the stalks finely
Make your quiche as usual. Crumble plenty of stilton ( minus the rind) into the mix with the chopped asparagus. Just before you put it in the oven sprinkle over the heads. Serve with watercress and tomato salad.
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post #13 of 15
I like it steamed for just 2 - 3 minutes, basically al dente, then dressed with a splash of lemon juice, a quick grind of pepper and a bit of garlic salt. If I'm feeling really decadant I'll glob on a bunch of bleu cheese salad dressing, forget the calories! Asparagus is fairly versatile, soups, salads, sautes and such.

And it WILL impart a distinct aroma to the diner's urine. And as I recall from an experiment some years ago, if you make a veggie broth using a large collection of the snapped-off woody ends, the whole pot ends up smelling like that. Oh well.

mjb.
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post #14 of 15
:roll: I read a report somewhere a few months ago that only 50 per cent of eaters ended up having asparagus smelling pee.....!
post #15 of 15
i live on the west coast, cali to be exact, and i get really fresh asparagus from Trader Joe's. I just cut off the bottoms coat them in olive oil sprinkle some garlic salt and paper and set them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. YUM!
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