Friday, May 8, 2009
do you love asparagus? let's do a recipe roundup
it seems as if i have been eating asparagus non-stop for the past month. i have noticed ...now that i have the opportunity cook almost every day in my "post corporate" life...that seasonal eating just comes naturally. i eat mostly local in-season food and...because once the season is over i have to wait another year...i prepare my favorites over and over again. there appears to be the perfect nature based cut-off...because just as i am starting to get the tiniest bit tired of the fruit or vegetable...the season is over...and it is time for my next favorite!
asparagus is a perfect example. i adore this vegetable and can eat it constantly during the season...then i am perfectly content to wait until the next year because canned or frozen versions are just wrong...and the "flown in from around the world" options just do not taste good...but it is early may...and here in california asparagus are in season...so favorite asparagus recipes...here we come...
asparagus was first planted in california during the 1850's. i like to imagine the original owners of my farmhouse (which was built in 1885) eating the same foods that i enjoy today. did you know that asparagus is a member of the lily family? according to the california asparagus commission, california leads the nation in asparagus production with more than 50,000 metric tons harvested annually.....so we have a lot of asparagus available...and i think i personally put a dent in the 50,000 metric tons statistic...
my favorite way to prepare asparagus is one of the simplest....roasting. roasted asparagus as a side dish is really good...but served on grilled bruschetta, with a wedge of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, a small salad and a glass of wine makes an amazing dinner on a hot day...my trick is salting the asparagus with coarse grey salt prior to roasting in olive oil. something about the crunchy salt, the excellent extra virgin olive oil and perfectly roasted asparagus just rocks...
i also love asparagus with eggs. last year i shared a recipe for poached eggs with asparagus and truffle oil which i make all the time during spring...or pasta with sauteed asparagus, pine nuts, spring onions and garlic..in extra virgin olive oil, white wine and seasonings is out of this world...i have tried many different versions of asparagus soup throughout the years...but they always called for chicken or vegetable stock. i wanted a really "asparagusy" (totally made up word) soup so this year i developed one which calls for an asparagus stock...this recipe is fast, easy and really good. i named it asparagus, asparagus soup to emphasize the clean asparagus taste...this version is just thickened with a potato..so while it is thick and creamy...no cream...so a really healthy and low cal version...let me know what you think...
2 bunches fresh asparagus
extra virgin olive oil
coarse grey salt
preheat oven to 400 degrees. drizzle olive oil over bottom of baking sheet (with sides)...approx 3 tbsp. prepare asparagus by snapping off ends and peeling stalks. roll the asparagus in the oil to coat. sprinkle with grey salt. roast in oven 10-15 minutes (depends on how thick your stalks are) until asparagus has just begun to caramelize. serve immediately.
this soup can be served hot, warm or even cold...so a good versatile choice depending on the unpredictable spring weather...
asparagus, asparagus soup
2 lbs fresh asparagus
6 cups water
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
2 green onions, diced, green and white parts separated
1 clove garlic peeled and minced
1 russet potato, diced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
freshly cracked black pepper
peel the asparagus and snap off the ends. place the asparagus peel and ends, 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper in a large stockpot and add the water. cook over high heat until water reaches soft boil...boil for 20 minutes. strain asparagus broth into large bowl and discard solids. set aside.
roughly chop the asparagus reserving a few tips for garnish. meanwhile, add approx 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to stockpot and heat over medium flame. add yellow onions, white part of green onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped asparagus and potatoes and saute until onions are just translucent (do not let brown).
pour asparagus broth into very large measuring cup and add water to ensure you have 6 cups. add broth/water mixture to stockpot and bring to soft boil. reduce heat to simmer and cook until potatoes and asparagus are very soft (20-30 minutes)
at this point you need to puree the soup. you can pour into a blender/food processor to accomplish but i have an aversion to pouring boiling hot liquids into a machine. years ago i bought an immersion blender...one of my favorite tools...and i use this to effortlessly, easily and...safely... puree my soup. i like my soup with a bit of texture so i just puree, but if you want a very smooth soup you can then pour it through a fine sieve into a bowl to strain out the remaining solids. pour back into stockpot and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. serve hot, warm or cold garnished with chopped green onion and asparagus tips.
what are your favorite asparagus recipes? let's do a roundup of terrific ways to prepare asparagus so we can all share...you can either list your recipe here...or link to your blog...please share in the comments section of this post....
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