7 quick ways with asparagus
Oh, man, do we look forward to bundles and bundles of asparagus in our grocery stores signaling that spring has finally arrived. Ahhhhhh, after such a winter, we can’t seem to get enough of the big taste of green this veg plants on our palates. The simplest way to do asparagus is steamed and served with butter and a squeeze of lemon, or with hollandaise sauce. But there are other ways with the “big taste of green.”
1. Grilled Asparagus
The right springtime treatment for asparagus – simply break off the tough bottom ends of medium-thick asparagus, drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper, then grill over a medium-hot fire until tender, turning to brown evenly. Eat hot or at room temp – no embellishment needed. Or dip into lemony mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce, if you must.
2. Asparagus with Crispy Ginger and Garlic
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables. Snap the tough ends off 1 lb. asparagus and slice the spears diagonally into 1-inch pieces, leaving the tips whole. Peel a knob of fresh ginger and slice it 1/8-inch thick, then julienne the ginger. Peel 3 garlic cloves and slice into thin rounds. Sauté the ginger and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until fragrant, golden and crisp. Add the asparagus and sauté about 2 minutes more until tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve over cooked rice or thin noodles, or serve as a side dish to grilled fish. Serves 4.
3. Oven-Roasted Asparagus and Leeks
From the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, combine 20 thick asparagus spears, tough ends removed, with 6 medium leeks, white and pale green parts, halved lengthwise, root end left on and rinsed of any grit and thoroughly dried. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, toss gently to coat, add 1/2 t. kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss to combine. Place the veg in a roasting pan and roast until they start to turn brown and are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, turning once, about 25 minutes. Remove and allow the veg to cool enough to eat. Serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Serves 4.
4. Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Bundles
Adapted from Planking Secrets by BBQmeister Ron Shewchuk, Baron of Barbecue North. Preheat oven to 400°F. Snap the tough ends off and blanch 24 medium-thick asparagus spears in boiling, salted water for a minute or two, until deep green. Drain. Lay out 8 large slices of prosciutto, top each with 3 asparagus spears, place thin slices of Italian fontina or parmesan cheese between each spear and wrap the prosciutto around each bundle. Roast the bundles in the oven for about 10 minutes until the asparagus and prosciutto are a bit browned. Serve two per person atop tossed green salad. Serves 4.
5. Asparagus with Creamy Orange Vinaigrette
From Canadian Living’s Best Vegetables. Cook 1 lb. asparagus spears until al dente. Reserve. To make the vinaigrette, in a bowl whisk together 1/2 c. light mayonnaise, 1 T. grated orange rind, 2 T. orange juice, 1 T. lemon juice, 1/2 t. Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter, pour the dressing over, and garnish with 2 T. chopped chives or green onion. Serves 4.
6. Chinese Asparagus with Toasted Almonds
Adapted from a long bean recipe in Susanna Foo Fresh Inspiration. Snap the tough ends off 1 lb. slim to medium asparagus spears and cook the spears until al dente. Cut the spears into pieces about 2-inches long and reserve. Heat 2 T. olive oil, 1 t. toasted sesame oil, 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced, and 2 scallions, white part only, chopped, over medium heat until the garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add 1 T. each soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Whisk well and reserve. In a bowl, toss the asparagus with 1 c. halved grape tomatoes, the reserved oil mixture and 1/4 c. fresh tarragon leaves, chopped. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve chilled or at room temp. Just before serving, toss in 1/2 c. toasted, slivered almonds. Serves 6.
7. Asparagus Gratin
From Contorni by Susan Simon. Preheat oven to 37°5 F. Trim the tough stems from the bottoms of 2 lbs. medium-thick asparagus. Steam or cook the asparagus in boiling water about 8 minutes until al dente. Drain and reserve. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 T. butter. Add 2 T. flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1-1/2 c. whole milk and cook, while whisking, another 3 minutes until the mixture has the consistency of pancake batter. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese. Whisk until the cheese is combined with the sauce. Cover the bottom of a gratin dish with some sauce and top with half the asparagus. Use half the remaining sauce to cover the asparagus. Sprinkle with half of 1/4 lb. emmenthal cheese, shredded. Top with the remaining asparagus, cover with the remaining sauce and the remaining emmenthal. Bake until bubbling and the top is browned, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4 - 6.