Asparagus Point in the Spring Direction
By Deborah Salomon
Before every fruit and vegetable was available year-round, asparagus signaled spring. Now, at least the spears are fresher and cheaper in April than January.
Asparagus-lovers are divided into slender and fat - spears, that is - with the balance opting for slender. Too bad, since only fat ones have a certain buttery flavor and velvety texture.
I recommend fat ones for a classic asparagus salad.
The rule of asparagus is proper cooking. A square skillet works best but any skillet will do. Trim the tough ends, cover spears with cold water, bring to a boil, cover and cook briskly 4-5 minutes until barely tender and still bright green. Drain and rinse with cold water until asparagus have cooled down completely. Pat dry and refrigerate.
An elegant salad demands fat asparagus and simple, tangy vinaigrette - not a bottled dressing. Whisk ? cup extra virgin olive oil with 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, ? teaspoon Dijon mustard and a pinch of sugar. With a pastry brush, brush (don't drown) cooled spears with vinaigrette and cover for an hour. Place three or four on soft leaves of Bibb lettuce, brush again with vinaigrette and crumble on a little goat cheese.
Or sieve a hard-cooked egg over the plate.
Keep cooked asparagus in the fridge for a variety of uses: Roll spears with a slice of Swiss cheese in a flour tortilla, heat in microwave and serve with salsa. Cook a handful of fine soup noodles, add with diagonally cut asparagus spears to prepared chicken broth for a light soup. Or lay a few whole spears on a mini-baguette or hoagie roll with ham or salami and cheese for an interesting sandwich.
Roasting brings out the most intense flavor in medium-to-fat asparagus. Spread trimmed spears on a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil. Spray spears with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, until tender and brown. Optional: Five minutes before they are done, press a garlic clove over asparagus. Or, brush with soy sauce.
Then, try homemade pizza, with spears forming wheel spokes
When native asparagus hit the farmers markets start all over again because fresh-cut spears have a delicate flavor all their own. The flavor of spring.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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