Asparagus! Yay!

Asparagus! Yay!

Let us rejoice, my friends, for asparagus season is upon us!

They are starting to appear on produce stalls, the really thick white ones, and the thinner pinkish white ones, and my favorite, the glorious green with purple hues, and their pretty pointy little heads, curling onto one side or the other.

Simplicity is key. I discard the tough ends, bending each stalk gently until it snaps at the natural limit of tenderness. And always, the creeping doubt that this method will suddenly stop working, and that I’ll end up with a perfectly edible asparagus cut into pieces of nonsensical sizes. I heat up a little olive oil in a skillet, drop the asparagus in and stir to coat, sprinkle them with a bit of salt, and cook them until soft, and golden brown in places. I eat them as is, preferably with my fingers, starting from the head – a notable exception to the Last Bite Axiom.

The only thing I object to with asparagus, is that afterwards, … um well, okay, let’s not get into that here. But you know.

  • boreal

    Apparently not everyone has the ability to KNOW. Only some people have the ability to detect it. So some will be clueless upon reading this. :)

  • Karen

    I agree with boreal – I just had a conversation about you KNOW – and two men thought I was out of my mind. They didn’t KNOW.

    One bite if one asparagus and I KNOW ;)

  • http://edibletulip.typepad.com/ Chef in the woods

    Aha! I just wrote about that delicate but stinky ‘issue’ on my site… and included a link to this intrepid reporter who gets to the skinny of all weird facts including this.

    Simplicity IS the route with asparagus but they are also so wondrously complimented by eggs, esp poached, when the yolk can coat the spears and with a little coarse salt and pepper et VOILA… pretty much a 2 minute lunch.

    Yay asparagus indeed.

  • http://www.joannou.net brian w
  • Sher

    Ahh, love asparagus. We have been getting a lot of it in the markets, the nice green ones with purples hues, as they grow it here. I live in the Central Valley of California. In fact, a town near me, Stockton, has a huge asparagus festival going on right now. They fix asparagus there in ways you can’t imagine. One popular dish is an asparagus and strawberry shortcake. I think the most popular dish is one where they take a fresh asparagus, dip it in batter and flash fry it right in front of you.

    Sher

  • EMDB

    Actually (at the risk of being totally pedantic) the tips of the green asparagus (at least what I can get in western Massachusetts, near Hadley, the former Asparagus Capital of the World) shouldn’t be curled. It they are, it means that the asparagus is dehydrated. After they are cut, they should be stored, cut stalks down, in water. If your asparagus tips are curly, when you get them home, cut off some of the ends, and set them upright in some cold water. They should revive and straighten out if they’re not too far gone, and they’ll be tastier, to boot.

    (First time posting, enjoy the site very much.)

  • http://foodgoat.blogspot.com ladygoat

    I used to snap off the ends too, but I felt badly that I was throwing away so much. But at someone’s suggestion I started just peeling the outer ends with a potato peeler, so you get the stringy outer skin off. It’s pretty easy. Then the whole stalk is tender and cooks evenly.

  • Sylvie

    Rappy,
    I am the “proud mother”, and I would be delighted to have a copy of this Gourmet magazine. It is a very kind idea : thank you very much !

  • johanna

    i agree with ladygoat here – never let a good thing go to waste! so peeling the ends is what i do, or, if the ends are really too woody, i use them for veloute.
    you’re so lucky to have white asparagus, i am used to eating loads of it back home in austria every june (our asparagus season), but can’t find any here in london! missing it a lot!!!
    i am trying green asparagus with browned butter, capers and almond flakes tonight, let’s see if this is worth doing or if the usual warm vinaigrette and some crusty ciabatta is actually much better anyway…

  • http://www.toomanychefs.com Meg in Paris

    I’m with you on this one, Clotilde – I much prefer the green asparagus with purple tips to the white stuff. When I lived in Munich the white variety was everywhere, and it seems to be seen as more “gourmet” here in Paris…but I prefer the flavour of the green and purple stuff. Hurrah indeed!

  • http://www.cuisinecapers.com Irene

    Asparagus season is my second favorite time of year – the only thing that beats it is heirloom tomato season, of course!

    I use the ends of the asparagus in a nice cream of asparagus soup with parmesan. I hate to see good asparagus go to waste, as it is with us for such a short amount of time!

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    My favorite: Asparagus marinated in fresh thyme, balsamic, olive oil, S&P, then thrown on the grill for a bit (want them to still be crunchy), and then sprinkled with a bit of pure Orange Oil and maybe some parmesan. Mmmmm.

  • http://www.duvekot.ca/eliane eliane

    http://growabrain.typepad.com/growabrain/

    Has an interesting food post on April 24

  • http://crumbs.everywherebuthere.com theresa

    I got an idea from eating at a resto in Italy near the Swiss border:
    Melt some butter in a pan, fry up a little bit of garlic and thin asparagus slices, and add a split of white wine, and mix it up with tortellini (the one at the resto was stuffed with truffles and ricotta). So rich!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Boreal, Karen and Chef – Fascinating about that ability to detect the smell!

    Brian – Mmm yes, the poached egg is a lovely pairing idea…

    Sher – Wow, asparagus and strawberries, that sounds great! Do they share the recipe?

    EMDB – Thanks for the tip about the tips :) I had no idea, I’ll do that next time!

    Ladygoat – Good tip too, thanks!

    Johanna and Meg – Yes, for some reason, the white variety is not available everywhere. Not sure if it’s a climate issue or a marketing one : I could imagine some people not being too turned on by the pale, white ones…

    Irene – And um… would you share your asparagus soup recipe?

    Jenny – Ooo I wish I had a grill!

    Theresa – Oh yes, it does sound great! I’ll have to remember that…

  • http://loveandcooking.blogspot.com Charlotte

    I live in Northern California, so I have been enjoying this year’s crop for a little while now. I love it. My favorite way to fix it is roasting (spears flat in a pan, drizzled VERY LIGHTLY with oil and tossed, and no more than about 8 minutes in a 450 oven). Although I do get busy and make asparagus enchiladas for my lunches when I’m ambitious.

    I don’t like eating it off-season even though it ships very well – it used to be such a spring-only treat.

    I do notice That Side Effect more now that I usually eat the spears roasted instead of boiled, as my dear mother always fixes it.

  • Peter

    Asperges à la flamande (Asparagus the Flemish way) is a very tradional but very satisfying way of eating this delicacy. For 4 people. Have 32 thick white asperagus peeled. Steam them for 6 minutes (or put in boiling water, standing up so the tip does not break). Boil 3 eggs for 8 minutes. Mash the yolks, rasp the white. Meanwhile, melt 125 g of butter and brown the asparagus lightly, adding some salt. Carefully put the aspargus on a plate. Mix a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and mix. Pour the sauce over the asparagus, add the eggs.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Charlotte – Oh, asparagus enchilada sounds lovely, fusion food at its best! :) Would you share the details? And very interesting note about the influence of the cooking method on The Side Effect!

    Peter – Thanks for the recipe, it sounds lovely. Are you flemish yourself? I notice you have a .be email address!

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0001754/ Leah

    I’m a snapper too, and feel no guilt about it. My favorite way to cook asparagus, which requires firing up the oven (always nice in Minnesota in the winter time) is to roast it. I lay the asparagus out on a flat pan, brush it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on the top. Then I roast it for about 11-15 minutes at 400 degrees, giving the asparagus a good shake halfway through. Seems a cruel way to treat a spring vegetable, but it sure comes out tasty.

  • Peter

    A small money-saver: when you peel white asparagus, put the peel in the cooking water as well. When you get the asparagus out, set aside and later cook it to at least half of the volume. Put all in a mixer and you have a base for a quick asparagus soup. Add some cream and chopped chive, and maybe some chicken stock.
    Needless to say, the asparagus should be washed! (Anyway, they peel better, if you put them in cold water for half an hour).

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Leah – I agree, they’re great roasted too!

    Peter – That is an excellent tip, thank you, I’ll definitely do that next time.

  • Sarah

    I’m in Sacramento and enjoy our local central valley fresh asparagus in the Spring, but today bought fresh white asparagus from Peru (it is Spring there!) but I wasn’t sure what to do with it and found this site and all your great ideas. Think I’ll peel it first (recommended for white) and roast it Leah’s way in the oven. I’ve never done it that before and I’m feeling game.

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