Asparagus is Here!! (And our favorite ways to eat it)

On Saturday, Ed (my favorite farmer at the farmers’ market) had asparagus.  He apparently had even had it the week before.  That’s a pretty solid three weeks early.  I only buy asparagus from Ed and when he doesn’t have it any more, well then, we don’t eat it anymore until the next year.  I was thrilled to see this first vegetable of spring!  Even though it wasn’t on the menu plan, here’s what we’re eating tomorrow night.

Pasta with Asparagus, Toasted Almonds, and Browned Butter
from Cooks Illustrated, March/April 2003

2 T oil
1 pound asparagus, in 1-inch lengths
3 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 medium shallots, sliced into rings
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat the oil until really hot.  Add the asparagus and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute until it begins to brown.  Add the garlic, shallots, salt, and pepper and cook until asparagus is tender crisp, another 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

6 T butter, cut into pieces
1 C chopped almonds (The recipe calls for sliced almonds.  I prefer to use whole almonds and chop them myself.  I like the texture provided by the different sizes of almond pieces and the “almond dust” that is created by the chopping adheres really nicely to the pasta and distributes the almond flavor better.)
1/4 C sherry vinegar (I never have sherry vinegar around so I use apple cider instead)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (which I don’t always have – it’s OK to omit it but delicious if you do have it)

Add the butter to the hot skillet, on high heat.  After the butter melts, add the almonds and cook, stirring constantly until the almonds and butter are browned and irresistible, 1-2 minutes.  Off the heat, add the vinegar and thyme.  Stir the asparagus mixture back in.

1 pound of pasta (having been cooked in water with 1 T of salt) (CI recommends farfalle, I usually use rotini)
1 C grated Parmesan cheese (we usually use kefalotiri, a Greek cheese)

Stir the butter/almond/asparagus mixture into the pasta, along with 1/2 C of the cheese.  Serve immediately with the remaining 1/2 C cheese for sprinkling on top.  Delicious!

(The cooking of this recipe goes very quickly so I would recommend having everything chopped and ready to go before starting the cooking process.  Usually, I can cook the butter/asparagus mixture in the time that it takes the pasta to cook.  It is also worth the trouble to slice the garlic thinly rather than using a garlic press.  The garlic slices are delicious.)

**************

Our other favorite way to eat asparagus is shaved asparagus pizza.   We’ll probably eat that this week too!

Hooray for spring!

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10 Responses to Asparagus is Here!! (And our favorite ways to eat it)

  1. Aunt Zona says:

    Hello, fellow gardener and asparagus lover! If you plan to stay in your home for more than 3 years (and even if you don’t, as a gift to future residents), I urge you to plant up an asparagus bed! It doesn’t have to be intimidating, so don’t let all the fancy directions stop you. Just get some great organic fertilizer in some form and mix that into the bed a bit before your crowns arrive. Order them up and go ahead and plant them this spring. That way, you should be eating your very own luxurious crops in three years. Exciting! And way easy. You’ll be so glad that you did! (Your recipe looks delicious, btw!)

    • Laura says:

      Thank you Zona! I definitely would love to plant asparagus – it’s just a matter of a. finding the place to grow it and b. finding the time amongst all our other gardening plans to make a bed and get them planted. Maybe next year! This year, we’re aiming for fruit trees!

  2. Kim says:

    Your old post about the asparagus pizza introduced me to the wonders of “Smitten Kitchen”. I have been a faithful follower of that food blog ever since. Many thanks for the website recomomendation…and the great asparagus recipe too! Sadly, asparagus is not commonly grown here, so it is a very expensive luxury 😦

    • Laura says:

      I love SK too! I always check there for recipes before looking elsewhere. And how sad that there’s no asparagus grown in Israel! You’ll have to make sure to take a trip home during late spring to eat your fill!

  3. RecipeReader says:

    Reading through, sounds Iike thinly sliced garlic will burn being in hot pan for 4-5 minutes total.

    • Laura says:

      You’re right – normally garlic does burn but it doesn’t with this recipe – the asparagus seems to protect it plus I think when it’s in slices, it burns less quickly than when it’s minced.

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