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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Asparagus Recipes

Toss asparagus into everyday favorites, from
eggs to pasta and rice. Photo courtesy
California Asparagus Commission.

 

Low in calories, delicious, and as inexpensive as they’re going to get: This is the season to have as much asparagus as you desire. Incorporate them into everyday dishes such as eggs and pasta, or make something more special-occasion like risotto. Steam them for a snack. Whatever you do, cook them al dente rather than soft.

Adding asparagus to a recipe is easy: Just grill, sauté, steam or stir-fry the spears.

For pasta and risotto: For a seasonally exciting change, cut asparagus into bite-size pieces, sauté or steam and mix into cooked pasta, risotto or plain rice. You can use the pasta sauce of your choice, or simply toss with good olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. For more complexity, combine asparagus with mushrooms and/or other green vegetables, including broad beans, broccoli, green beans, spinach and spring peas.

For eggs: Mix al dente cooked and cut spears into omelets or scrambled eggs, or add whole spears to Eggs Benedict, between the Canadian bacon and the eggs.

For salad: Add asparagus to your favorite salad recipe, or create a composed salad of asparagus, beets, hard-cooked eggs, mozzarella and any other appealing ingredients.

 
Here are more luscious, easy recipes for asparagus season:

  • Steamed Asparagus. Enjoyed plain, with a squeeze of lemon or lime or with a pinch of plain or flavored salt, this may be the simplest way to serve asparagus. It’s deeply satisfying and very low in calories: 3 to 5 calories per spear, depending on size; 33.5 calories per cup.
  • Flavored Mayonnaise. In centuries past, asparagus would be coated with a rich Hollandaise sauce—egg yolks and butter, a cardiologist’s nightmare. Today, you can cut the cholesterol in half with a mayonnaise (egg yolks and olive or other oil): a dab of aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), lemon mayonnaise or other flavored mayonnaise does the trick. You make or buy flavored mayonnaise, or can flavor store-bought mayonnaise with minced garlic, lemon or orange zest, or herbs (recipe).
  •  

  • Grilled Asparagus. Parmesan, olive oil and lemon are wonderful with asparagus. Grill or dry-griddle the spears on both sides until nicely marked. Serve with lemon juice and three times as much olive oil (in essence, a lemon juice vinaigrette). Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then grate or shave Parmesan over the asparagus. To grill in foil: Wrap the asparagus in a foil parcel with some bits of butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper; we use white wine instead of the lemon juice, and chervil, mint or tarragon. Place the parcel on the grill for 15-20 minutes.
  • Melted butter. The British alternative to French Hollandaise: simple melted butter. But there’s no reason to go simple: Try a compound butter recipe. Mint butter or chervil butter are especially delicious with asparagus. If you’re not up to making compound butter, just add the herbs: a sprinkling of snipped fresh herbs makes everything taste better.
  •  

    Grill or steam asparagus and braid them with strips of smoked salmon or prosciutto: a stunning first course. Photo courtesy Payard | New York City.

     

  • Vinaigrette. Hot or chilled, asparagus and a Dijon vinaigrette are a lovely match. You can steam the spears on the stove over boiling water; we use the microwave. For the vinaigrette, whisk together 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Before you serve, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs on top. Chervil is particularly delicious with asparagus, but you can also use basil, mint or parsley (flat leaf).
  • Sriracha Sauce. If you like heat, add some sriracha (Thai hot sauce), other hot sauce or some crushed chili flakes to your mayonnaise, melted butter or vinagrette.
  • Bacon or Pancetta. Bacon lovers can add it to cooked asparagus. Cook the bacon, then use the drippings to moisten the asparagus (let your conscience guide you to the amount). Top with cut or crumbled bacon, and feel free to sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
  • Asparagus Soup. Whether you like a vegetarian soup, a cream soup, a purée or other style, hot or chilled: Make it with fresh asparagus. It‘s a memory you’ll carry with you until next year’s asparagus season.
  •  
    ASPARAGUS TIP

    The thickness and size of the spear has nothing to do with the tenderness of the asparagus. Tenderness is a function of how the plant was grown and how fresh it is—the longer the time since harvest, the less tender.

    However, the bottom of the stalk, where it is cut from the ground, is tough. It should be removed before cooking.
      





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