Thursday, April 27, 2017

It's Asparagus Season!!!

\One of the best things about late April and Spring is that it's peak season for one of nature's most delicious veggies - asparagus. This flavorful spear is excellent grilled or par boiled, served in soup and salad. It's also a wonderful canvas to work with, using lush ingredients to create a special dish.

David Tanis wrote about it inhis column  City Kitchen yesterday's New York Times Food section. This is asparagus season and there are many different types. He reminisces about eating the wild variety which grew along an irrigation ditch on a California ranch. It has the same look, taste and texture as the cultivated kind, It's more feral,  and not really wild, being indigenous to Europe.There's also white asparagus, big in Germany at this time of year.What's coming into the farmer's market this year is not coming from there but from Peru. They are tasty but take a bit longer to cook. For many home chefs in North America, the quick cooking green variety is the most preferred.It does come in different sizes., from pencil thin to jumbo fat with a nice medium in between. Any size should have smooth, shiny skin and tightly closed tips. Asparagus is versatile and can be served raw, charred or the preferable parboiling. The best way is simmering the stalks in salted water, drained at the right moment and served warm.

There are some good recipes included. Mr. Tanis gives us shaved asparagus salad with ginger and sesame. This may take some getting used to  since it's using the raw spears.It's pealing each one with a vegetable peeler and then cutting the asparagus into very thin - but  not paper thin - slices.Think the width of a thinly sliced onion.. They're then placed in a salad bowl and seasoned with salt and pepper.The dressing is a fiery mix of jalapeno, rice vinegar , ginger and garlic. Brown sugar is the surprising sweet factor. He also gives us the exotic dish of charred asparagus with green garlic chimmichurri sauce. It's first making the sauce which consists of chopped  parsley and chopped green garlic.Oregano and olive oil are also added. You do need the pencil thin asparagus that will be cooked on a grill or in a very hot cast-iron pan.It needs to be lightly oiled and salted first.It should not only be charred but burnt and blistered first. After cooking the sauce is poured on top of it.It's then topped with crumbled feta.The last recipe is steamed asparagus with pistachios and browned butter. It's just steaming the spears and then making a brown butter sauce that has the added zing of lemon juice. The asparagus is quickly bathed in it and then pistachio nuts are sprinkled onto the buttery spears.

Take advantage of the abundance of asparagus right now. Try it in a variety of different ways , from raw, to charred  to just simmered and served with a butter sauce. All are delicious.

No comments: