I was talking to a close friend recently about asparagus. He was gushing about how much he loved it and could eat it all year! When I mentioned the very limited availability he was incredulous. One month?
We are spoiled in so many ways when it comes to food, as a country and as a community. We are overly picky and extremely wasteful. We often leave an enormous carbon footprint with our choices, like Peruvian asparagus in January, which travels thousands of miles to hit our plates. The upside: we get to “enjoy” asparagus in January and bolster the Peruvian economy. The downside: it is an extravagance we get to enjoy “because we can.”
I am old enough to remember when it was late April to May and food literature was just full of asparagus recipes because that was when it was available. You would eat it and eat it and enjoy it in so many different ways! And then it was gone. It was out of season. You moved on to the next “seasonal star” and fixed that a million different ways. The rhythm and cycle was fresh local food, ripe and inexpensive, while it was in season. Canning and preserving was the culinary art form to stretch the harvest. But you just can’t beat fresh.
Now the lines are so blurred that it really is difficult to believe there are lines—unless you put them back.
I am not telling anybody not to eat asparagus in January. But the end result is that we lose our appreciation of fresh local food; we lose the respect we should have for the struggles and challenges of our local farms. Many cultures and religions have appropriately elevated food to the level of sacred, as a gift from their God. When was the last time you gave thanks for your meal?
You will generally find Asparagus sold in bunches. It is the tips we crave. Look for tips that are compact. Wash with cold water and trim the woody stems. Snap them off as low as possible then trim any excess with a vegetable peeler.
Choose your method to your preference and convenience.
* vegetable steamer
* boiling water
* the microwave
I will leave the individual to decide on the merits of each method. There are a couple of rules of thumb
* A green vegetable is still green when properly cooked.
* Salting vegetables prior to cooking provides a better flavor.
Cook until just tender (not more than 3 minutes). Serve warm with butter. One pound of prepped asparagus will serve 3 adults.
One 9” bottom crust of your choice
3/4 lb asparagus, blanched (lightly steamed)4 large eggs1 1/2 cups milk or light cream1 cup grated local cheesePinch of nutmegSalt and pepper to tasteSome people like a little heat; I just make sriracha available as a condiment.
Preheat oven to 400.
Clean the asparagus.Select 6-8 tips to make your quiche "pretty." Cut the rest into ½” chunks.Blanch all of it and set aside.Prepare your crust and set on a baking sheet.Lightly beat the eggs then add milk and blend thoroughly.Place grated cheese in bottom of the pie crust then spread asparagus chunks evenly over the cheese. Add the liquid. Now arrange the spears on top.Cook for 20 minutes (until slightly set), then lower hear to 350 and rotate. Cook for another 20-30 minutes until center is firm. (It will be puffy and beautiful!)Let it set for at least 10 minutes before attempting to cut. Enjoy!
Quiche is ideal for brunch, lunch or a light dinner. I don’t make it often but always when local asparagus is in season. If you have some chives growing in your backyard chop some up and throw them in too.
Wash, trim and dry 1 lb. asparagus.
Dice 4-5 cloves of garlic.2-3 Tbs. olive oil½ tsp. kosher salt¼ tsp. ground black pepper
In a large flat pan carefully toss the asparagus to coat it with the ingredients.
Place on preheated grill; cook for 3-4 minutes then turn.Cook for another 3-4 minutes; you are looking for grill marks and the garlic should be browned. (This is one of the few times you should allow the asparagus to ‘slightly’ overcook!)Remove and serve immediately.
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