Posts Tagged 'aioli'

Asparagus: A Spring Treat

photo by Jennie Glaser

Asparagus is in it’s peak season right now and it’s going fast (evidence of this can be seen in the above photo taken at the Union Square Greenmarket). We’re very happy to have Jennie Glaser as a guest contributor this week to celebrate asparagus and even happier to have been introduced to her scrumptious asparagus recipes. Here are some words from Jennie on why she loves asparagus, how she didn’t recognize it in her grandmother’s garden and ways to cook it that you’ll love:


It’s hard to believe that I only discovered asparagus five years ago. My parents never served it at family meals growing up, and for most of my life I wasn’t inclined to be very adventurous when it came to vegetables.

But I came across it in a dish I ordered at a restaurant in Omaha, a pasta dish with vegetables in a creamy, buttery lemon sauce. A great introduction, to be sure, but in spite of the cream and the butter, the asparagus stole the show. It quickly became my favorite vegetable.

One of the reasons asparagus is such a treat is that it’s in season for such a short time in the spring. People get as passionate about fresh asparagus as they do about garden-grown tomatoes in the summer.

I’ve heard that eating asparagus the same day it’s picked is one of those experiences you shouldn’t miss. One afternoon a few years ago, I was visiting my grandparents on their farm in northeastern Iowa, and I must have been raving about asparagus. My grandma asked if I wanted to go pick some of what was growing in her garden, and I leapt at the chance. I headed out the back door toward my grandma’s sizeable garden. Once I reached it, I realized I had no idea what I was looking for. I’d recently finished Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” in which she talks about how Americans are getting more and more removed from how their food is grown, and I stood there thinking that I was a prime example. I had no idea what my favorite vegetable looked like when it emerged from the ground.

Well, I told myself, I know that asparagus is related to the lily. So I looked for something that resembled a white flower. Meanwhile, my grandmother, who had been watching me from the kitchen window, came from to the back door and shouted at me, “You’re looking at the onions! It’s in the back of the garden!”

And there they were, emerging from the ground in stalks that look exactly as they do when you buy them in a grocery store.

photo by Jennie Glaser

I find that the best way to eat fresh asparagus is to keep it simple. In fact, I would feel bad calling this first serving idea a recipe, so to placate my conscience, I’ll call it a “cooking technique” with a suggested condiment. If you’ve never prepared asparagus at home, the best way to trim the woody bottom of the stalk is to hold each end of the asparagus with one hand and bend the stalk in half. The asparagus will break right after the woody part ends.

Blanched asparagus with aioli

Set a pot of water to boil, then add trimmed asparagus. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how thick the stalks are. They’re ready when they turn a bright green. Remove the stalks from the boiling water and submerge them in an ice bath. This stops the cooking process, leaving the asparagus tender, but crisp. And it’s perfect served with aioli, a garlicky mayonnaise from Provence.

Aioli:

1 clove garlic

1 ½ cups mayonnaise

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. lemon

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. salt

Put the garlic clove through a garlic press. Add to mayonnaise, then whisk in olive oil, then lemon juice, a little at a time. Then whisk in salt and pepper. Serve with blanched asp

aragus.

Asparagus and linguine dressed with olive oil and Parmesan:

This is my secret weapon for fixing asparagus quickly and easily. I usually make this for myself, but because there are no set amounts, it’s easy to scale up for a bigger crowd. As written, this recipe is heavier on the asparagus than the pasta, but that’s the way I like it.

1 serving of linguine or other pasta

½ bunch of asparagus, trimmed

olive oil

grated Parmesan

salt

freshly cracked pepper

1. Prepare the pasta according to the directions. Five minutes before it’s done, add the asparagus and finish cooking both.

2. Drain and return to pot. Toss with olive oil until pasta and asparagus are lightly coated.

3. Add Parmesan cheese and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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post by Jennie Glaser

Jennie is a graduate student in the SVA MFA Design Program. She is also a member of the department’s fabulous food co-op and managing editor of CRIT.

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