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Asparagus madness for my english speaking friends

Spring Wears White- Asparagus Madness In Germany
by Witold T.Zalewski ,April 29,2007
On weekend mornings at this time of year, the traffic backs up alarmingly at the Beelitz exit on the Berlin-Leipzig autobahn. For about two months — from late April until June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist — Berliners go bonkers over asparagus, especially the white asparagus grown in the sandy soil around this modest market town 30 miles southwest of the capital.
They call the annual season of madness spargelzeit, or asparagus time. Along with the flowering of daffodils and lilacs, the appearance of the fat, juicy spears marks the end of the wet, cheerless Continental winter, and entire households jump into the family Volkswagen or Mercedes for a jaunt out into the countryside to sample the freshly cut asparagus. Some eat it on the spot, doused in butter or hollandaise sauce and eased down by a beer or a glass of white wine, on picnic tables set out by farmers, to the accompaniment of an oompah band. Others buy a few dozen stalks and take them home to cook.
How deeply has spargel sunk into the German psyche? During World War II, the poles that the Nazis set up in Normandy in a bid to deter landings by Allied gliders were nicknamed "Rommel's asparagus."
American asparagus growers, in states like Washington, Michigan and California, have been hard hit by imports from Peru, which ships the vegetable to the United States year-round. But in Europe, it remains a local, seasonal delicacy, much like sweet corn in the Midwest. The 10-month wait for the moment when the stalks reappear on market stalls — "like coronets among the cabbages," in the words of the British food writer Nigel Slater — only enhances the pleasure of the year's first succulent bite.
In town and country restaurants across Germany, chefs vie to produce special asparagus menus. The least imaginative among them will offer a half-dozen standard variations, perhaps including asparagus with ham, cream of asparagus soup, asparagus with scrambled eggs, asparagus with cheese sauce, asparagus salad and asparagus with Wiener schnitzel. I have even seen (but never tasted) asparagus ice cream.
Lillian Langseth-Christensen, the longtime Gourmet contributor, painted a word-picture in 1988 that must have rung true for every German who came across it. As she ate a plate of delicious early-season asparagus with marinated salmon, she wrote, the seasons seemed to change right in front of her eyes: "Birds began to sing in the chestnut trees before the door, the sun shone warmly, and in rereading the asparagus menu, we knew there would be blissful days ahead."
On a recent sojourn in Berlin, my long time girlfriend Alicja, and I ate asparagus at least once, sometimes twice a day;Alicja is such an asparagus maniac that on an earlier German trip I christened her "Spargel Plenty."
At Vau, Kolja Kleeberg's award-winning restaurant just off the Gendarmenmarkt, we sampled two particularly light, vivacious asparagus creations — white asparagus and crayfish awash in an ethereal green asparagus emulsion, and white and green asparagus with a scallop of fried chicken and a very lightly boiled egg. At First Floor in the Palace Hotel, another top local table, we tried Matthias Buchholz's asparagus with lobster (very good) and with morels and bear garlic, a first cousin of our Appalachian ramps (even better, in my view, combining prime seasonal ingredients to conjure up all of the loamy mystery of a forest in springtime).
"Spring is not spring without asparagus," Mr. Kleeberg remarked.
But to tell the truth, German white or, more precisely, ivory-colored asparagus best fulfills its destiny when least fiddled with. Give me a dozen smooth, carefully steamed spears, thick as George Foreman's thumb, not too squishy, with the merest hint of crispness remaining, heaped onto a platter, and I'm a happy man. Of course, a boat of hollandaise sauce on the side would be welcome, its lemony overtones an ideal foil for the vegetable. And perhaps a plate of salty ham, too, for further contrast.
As it happens, we ate just such a dish for lunch (minus the ham, plus a few chopped chives for color) at Lutter & Wegner, a cozy weinstube that dates back to 1811. But the asparagus was not quite as fresh as the batch that we bought another day near Beelitz on an outing with our friends Christoph and Ragnhild Bertram, which she cooked in their Berlin apartment only three hours after it had been cut. Stringless, tender, with luscious texture and an intensely vegetal, slightly nutty flavor, this was ur-spargel.
With it came melted butter (for more abstemious souls) and hollandaise (for me, please), as well as boiled potatoes and ham. Some ham! Mr. Bertram had made a special trip to Fleischerei Obitz, Berlin's leading butcher, to lay in a supply of the hand-sliced artisanal ham that is smoked over beechwood on small farms in Holstein, his native province north of Hamburg. Its pungent aroma filled the room, and its salty-sweet flavor knocked the socks completely off any Black Forest ham I have ever tasted.
Mrs. Bertram served this ample repast on striking, dead-simple white porcelain plates, which showed off the food to great advantage. Given their timeless elegance, we were not terribly surprised to learn that they had been designed by Germany's eminent neo-Classical architect, Karl Friederich Schinkel. His parents received them in 1934, Mr. Bertram said, as a wedding present.
With asparagus, freshness is paramount, as Betsey and I learned five years ago when we stopped at a roadside inn called Vogelherd near Dessau in eastern Germany. There the proprietor grew his own in the surrounding fields, harvesting it each morning before dawn to make absolutely sure that the sun did not compromise its whiteness.
Germans devour 72,000 tons of white asparagus a year, and they argue endlessly about what region produces the best. Sandy soil similar to that in Brandenburg, the state that encircles Berlin, is also found in Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany, notably near the town of Bruchsal, north of Karlsruhe. Standing in KaDeWe, Berlin's premier department store, admiring asparagus piled high like kindling, I was advised by the matron standing beside me to choose the spears marked "Bruchsal." "It's the best in the world," she said with the assurance of a woman who has tasted it all.
Beelitz may have an Asparagus Apotheke, or drugstore; a Spargel Museum full of silver asparagus holders and majolica asparagus plates; a road called the Spargelstrasse; and a Spargel Queen, who wears a crown made of white asparagus spears. But it has plenty of competition, and not just from other towns in Germany. The Wielkopolska region in western Poland is also probably one of the largest asparagus producers in the Europe with many asapragus being exported to Germany.In many local restaurants it is a featured vegetable-Restauracja Rzymska in Poznan has even two month long festival featuring different kinds of asparagus dishes.
The French prize the asparagus of Argenteuil, in the outer suburbs of Paris, and Villelaure in Provence. Italians covet the prize asparagus grown near Bassano del Grappa, in the northeastern corner of the country. In Britain, partisans debate the virtues of asparagus from Sussex, from St. Enodoc in Cornwall and from the Vale of Evesham, where a pub called the Round of Gras serves two and a half tons each year.
"So what?" Germans ask. They have Helmut Zipner. Known here as the Spargel-Tarzan, he is credited with having peeled a ton of asparagus in 16 hours.
a member of the lily family, has been around since Roman times. Cato the Elder gave instructions for its cultivation around 200 B.C., Caesar and Pliny praised it and in A.D. 304 Diocletian issued an edict against corrupt practices in the sale of asparagus — i.e., price gouging.
Introduced into Germany from France in the 16th century, asparagus arrived in Beelitz in 1861 and quickly established itself as the prime cash crop, with 1,500 acres under cultivation by 1937. World War II and the advent of Communism — this entire area was in East Germany — caused production to dwindle to almost nothing. But a marriage of German capital and Polish labor has produced a remarkable renaissance, and by 2010 asparagus fields are expected to cover 2,500 acres.
At the Syring Family Farm in Zauchwitz, east of Beelitz, where an inflated, 20-foot-tall plastic Herr Spargel greets hundreds of visitors a day, men from Poland do the digging and cutting of the asparagus, and women from Poland feed it into a machine that washes it and cuts off the woody ends. They then sort it by hand and load it into plastic boxes for sale at the farm, in Berlin wholesale markets and to elite restaurants and hotels like the Four Seasons.
Their foreman, Jurek Wojciakowski, also Polish, said they make about 750 euros a month each, about $900, which is three times the going rate back in Poland.
Standard green asparagus with violet tips are grown and eaten here, but like most people in Continental Europe, Germans consider white asparagus, with its subtle, delicate flavor, much the more refined product. To keep it white, the spears must be protected from chlorophyll-producing sunlight, which would turn it green. The minute the furled tips threaten to poke through opaque plastic covers covering the long mounds in which the vegetable grows, workers lift the covers and harvest the asparagus.
"You try to spot the soil breaking," said Thomas Syring, the 24-year-old son of the farm's owners. "If you wait until the head comes through, it's too late."
Mr. Syring and his family produce close to 250 tons of asparagus on 75 acres in a good year — one with a mild spring and plenty of rain. (Asparagus is 90 percent water.) If it gets too hot under the covers, he explained, the vegetables' tips unfurl like flowers, spoiling them; the heat is controlled by reversing the plastic, so that its white, reflective side faces the sun, rather than its black, absorptive side.
The choicest spears are smooth and straight, with white tips (purple ones mean that the sun has had an effect). Biggest, in this case, is not best. Bernd Trittel, a jovial leather-vested salesman from Potsdam who had set up his small stall in the main square in Beelitz on the Saturday we were there, said the tenderest, most expensive spears run a bit less than an inch in diameter.
"Germans are perfectionists," Mr. Trittel said. "They know what they want and know what it is worth."
Although most aficionados think bigger is better—when referring to asparagus spears, that is—less is definitely more when it comes to preparing asparagus officianalis. This sensuous vegetable doesn’t need much enhancement to be enjoyed. Even when asparagus is at its most elaborate—in timbales, quiches and soups, for example—most cooks prefer to enhance, not disguise, its fluid texture and its unique grassy-fresh flavor. Even old-time French recipes are simple—check out the classics, and you will find that spears are drizzled with butter or served with gently flavored sauces like Mornay, hollandaise or beurre noire, but not much else.

Spears are blessedly simple to prepare and cook. First, the tough fibrous ends should be snapped or trimmed off, and the skin should be peeled almost to the tips if the spears are thick and fibrous. Then asparagus can be cooked by either moist heat (boiling, poaching or steaming), dry heat (grilling or roasting) or in between—asparagus will cook quickly with little moisture or oil when sautéed, stir-fried or microwaved. If very fresh and very tender, asparagus can also be enjoyed raw, shaved into salads or served as part of a crudité platter. Either way, asparagus takes mere minutes to go from market to table.

When spring weather is just right, an asparagus stalk can grow as much as 10 inches a day.Growing it, however, is something else. Several years are needed for this perennial—a member of the lily family—to bear fruit. Once it is established, however, it can flower for up to 15 years. While most Americans love the green spears, many Europeans prefer the fat, white asparagus, which is really only green spears that are planted to prevent contact with sunlight. Milder tasting than green asparagus, the white’s flavor resembles that of hearts of palm. The purple asparagus variety, called viola, has purple tips and leaves and pale stalks—and is reputed to be sweeter than green asparagus.

Although asparagus is available year-round, those who love it know that the just-picked spring asparagus is superior to out-of-season bunches. Select asparagus with care. Look for spears that are firm with tightly closed, compact buds. The spears should be moist, firm and uniform in color with no signs of wrinkling or dryness. Avoid any that are pitted or bruised, and try to buy spears of the same thickness so they’ll cook at the same rate. Back in the kitchen, treat asparagus with reverence, and enjoy it right away. If that’s not possible, store asparagus carefully in the refrigerator. However, do not store it for long because asparagus quickly loses its natural sugars, and that affects both flavor and texture. Fresh asparagus should snap when bent. Though best eaten the day purchased, asparagus can be refrigerated, wrapped in a damp cloth inside a plastic bag, for up to three days.Opinion is divided, but many people believe large stalks are sweeter and juicer than thin ones. White asparagus tends to be less flavorful. Purple asparagus has a fruity flavor.

Asparagus is a dream vegetable. Asparagus is rich in folic acid, and it is a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, B6 and thiamin. It has no fat or cholesterol and is low in sodium. Calories? Only about 5 per spear. What a good deal!

Versatile asparagus takes to many different cooking methods. Be sure to cook asparagus quickly to prevent overcooking. Spears are ready when you can pierce stem ends with a fork.

Steaming helps retain nutrients that might otherwise disperse in water. Use a special tall pot designed for cooking the spears upright, or simply place spears horizontally on a vegetable steamer set over boiling water.
Microwave a pound of asparagus with a few tablespoons of water in a covered glass dish for about 3 minutes, or until tender.

To blanch asparagus, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add asparagus, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 3 to 10 minutes, or until just tender. If sautéing or stir-frying blanched asparagus as a second step, rinse drained asparagus under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain again, and blot dry.

Prepare asparagus as directed in blanching recipe. Heat butter or olive oil, 2 to 4 teaspoons per pound of asparagus, in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched asparagus, and sauté, taking care not to break tips, until light golden brown on outside and warmed through.

Slice asparagus spears on the diagonal into 11⁄2- to 2-inch-long pieces. Prepare asparagus as directed in blanching recipe for quicker cooking. Stir-fry spears for about 3 minutes. Drizzle w sweet soy sauce

Prepare asparagus as directed in blanching recipe. Brush a grill pan or grill grates with oil. Heat fire or cooktop to medium-high. Place asparagus in pan or on grill, and cook, turning frequently, until deep golden brown on outside and warmed through.

Flavoring asparagus before roasting adds robust flavors. Use such seasonings as fresh thyme branches, sliced garlic cloves or scallions. And you may also season to suit your menu.Alternatively, sprinkle asparagus with soft, unseasoned breadcrumbs, or parmesan and drizzle with butter or olive oil.When asparagus is roasted, the flavors intensify.
Asparagus Sauces
The recipes below may be used as sauces to spoon over, or as dipping sauces. Also, be sure to note the amazing pasta recipe - found just below the recipe for Sesame Mayonnaise. At the bottom of this page are a list of no fewer than 14 other creative ways to use this delicious springtime treat! Asparagus may be washed and trimmed then cooked in an asparagus cooker, deep double boiler or narrow coffee pot - or it may be simply tied in bundles and simmered in a skillet. Select thick or thin spears - peel them or not - but cook them only until tender; they’re wonderful served hot or cold. Allow 1/3 to 1/2 pound per serving, depending on what else is served.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups 1 whole egg 2 egg yolks 2 1/2 tablespoons, rice vinegar 2 1/2 tablespoons, soy sauce 3 tablespoons, Dijon mustard 1/4 cup, dark sesame oil 2 1/2 cups, corn oil Szechuan-style hot chili oil grated fresh orange zest (colored part only of orange peel) In a blender, or a food processor with the steel blade, process the whole egg, yolks, vinegar, soy sauce and mustard for 1 minute. With motor running, drizzle the sesame oil through the feed tube, then the corn oil. Add oil slowly! (Start by adding only tiny drops at a time, then gradually increase to adding a very thin stream of oil.) Season with drops of chili oil, and taste for salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. Garnish with orange zest NOTE: This mayonnaise makes a terrific PASTA dish: cook a bundle of asparagus, refresh it in ice water, drain and set aside; cook and drain the pasta of your choice, then lightly toss it with corn oil (so it will require a lighter saucing, and not be too heavy). Then toss the pasta with a generous amount of chopped scallions and thin sliced radishes, chopped (cooked) asparagus stems - save the asparagus tips for serving presentation - and finally, jus enough sesame mayonnaise to lightly bind. Add salt and pepper, and more chili oil as desired, to taste. Garnish with grated orange zest and the (cooked) asparagus tips. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 1 1/4 cups 1 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon, capers (or more, to taste) 1 tablespoon, tomato paste 1 tablespoon, anchovy paste 1 garlic clove - peeled and minced large pinch of oregano OR tarragon For a slightly textured sauce, gently fold all ingredients together. OR: In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients until smooth, then garnish with additional capers. NOTE: Asparagus served with this sauce is nicely complimented by hard-cooked eggs - either chopped, sliced or halved.]
Makes 4 cups 1/2 bunch, Italian parsley 1/2 bunch, fresh dill 1/2 bunch, watercress 3/4 cup, briefly cooked (blanched) spinach - drained, and liquid squeezed out *Note: defrosted, frozen spinach may be substituted for fresh cooked; simply defrost approximately one package (to yield 3/4 cup) and squeeze out liquid) 2 scallions, sliced thin (including green) 2 cups, mayonnaise 1 cup sour cream salt and pepper to taste In a blender or food processor, process the three herbs together until chopped fine, then transfer to a bowl. Process the cooked spinach in the same way as the herbs, and add the processed spinach to the herb mixture in the bowl. To this mixture, add all remaining ingredients. Taste to correct seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Other Asparagus Ideas:
The classic: serve with Hollandaise Sauce
Make asparagus soup - or asparagus quiche - or shrimp and asparagus salad with mint Deep fry asparagus spears (dip first in flour, then in seasoned milk and egg, then in breadcrumbs; fry in 360 degree oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden) Serve with blueberry vinaigrette Serve with blueberry mayonnaise Serve with a hot bacon dressing; garnish with chopped, hard-cooked egg Serve cooked spears as a first course - drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese: pass a little pitcher of butter and dish of cheese, so guests may adorn their own, or serve already assembled Dip asparagus like a paintbrush into soft-cooked breakfast eggs Serve drizzled with any vinaigrette (adding prepared mustard if desired) Serve with Lemon Crumbs (in a skillet, toast breadcrumbs in melted butter; add lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice; heat through, then sprinkle the crumbs over cooked, lightly buttered and seasoned asparagus) Wrap cooked (then shocked in ice water) asparagus spears in prosciutto Spread a thin slice of ham with cream cheese, minced garlic, s&p; wrap this around a cooked asparagus spear and heat through at 350 degrees Hors d’oeuvre: With a rolling-pin, flatten a soft slice of bread; spread a bit of mustard on the bread, and wrap it around an asparagus spear and a finger of Swiss cheese; place seam side down on a cookie sheet, brush with butter. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes Make asparagus risotto (add the chopped asparagus stems at the beginning, then add the asparagus tips during the last 8 minutes of cooking
Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil1 ½ lbs. slender asparagus, trimmed3 Tbs. balsamic vinegarSalt & pepper¼ cup ( ½ to 1 oz.) Parmesan cheese curls Place a 10-in. ovenproof frying pan in a 500° oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and swirl oil in pan. With tongs, roll asparagus in oil. Bake asparagus till tender-crisp to bite, 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with vinegar; add salt and pepper to taste. Scatter Parmesan cheese curls on top
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
2 pounds trimmed asparagus1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oilSalt & pepper1-2 lemons, cut into wedgesHeat oven to 425°.Put asparagus in a jelly-roll (15 ½" x 10 ½") pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Turn till evenly coated, then arrange in a single layer.Roast 10-15 minutes, or till tender when pierced, and tips start to brown. Serve warm, with lemon wedges.
Roasted Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Fricassee
1 pound medium asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
12 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (such as cremini, oyster, chanterelle and stemmed shiitake), sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Arrange asparagus on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle oil over and turn to coat. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot; saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms; saute until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Cover; cook until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes. Add wine; cook uncovered until wine is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and tarragon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide asparagus among 4 plates. Top each serving with mushrooms. Makes 4 (first-course) servings.
Asparagus Braised with Fresh Rosemary and Bay Leaves
2 pounds fresh green or white asparagus, bottoms trimmed, peeled if tough
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves, preferably fresh
Cold water
In a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer, combine the asparagus, oil, salt, rosemary and bay leaves. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of cold water. Cover and cook over high heat just until the oil and water mixture begins to sizzle.
Reduce heat to medium and braise the asparagus, covered, turning from time to time, until the asparagus begins to brown in spots. Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the asparagus. Serve immediately. (Start to finish: 15 minutes.)
Makes 4 servings.
Pearl barley makes a wonderful risotto: It retains its distinct chew while easily releasing its starch to create a risotto as creamy as one made with Arborio rice — and with barely any stirring. Since I can't be bothered to make vegetable stocks ahead and I don't like canned versions, I've made the most of the asparagus in this dish. Using the stalks, tips, and even the cooking water makes the risotto sing with asparagus's springtime flavor.
1 1/2 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
5 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove
1 1/4 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1/2 cup) plus additional for serving
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Cut top third of each asparagus stalk diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices, reserving tips and slices together, then coarsely chop remainder. Bring water (5 1/2 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, then add chopped asparagus and cook, uncovered, until very tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a food processor (not a blender, which would require adding liquid).
Add reserved asparagus tips and slices to boiling water and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to a sieve, reserving cooking liquid in pan, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well and reserve in another bowl.
Measure cooking liquid and, if necessary, add enough water to bring total to 4 cups, then reserve.
Cook onion with pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add barley and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add wine and boil, stirring, until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.
Add 4 cups reserved asparagus-cooking liquid and bring to a boil, covered, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until barley is tender (it should be chewy) and mixture is thickened to a stewlike consistency, 35 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, mince garlic and mash to a paste with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt using side of a large heavy knife, then add to asparagus in food processor along with zest and purée until smooth.
When barley is cooked, stir in asparagus purée, asparagus-tip mixture, and enough additional water to thin to desired consistency and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Stir in cheese, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with hazelnuts and additional cheese on the side.
Cooks' Notes:
• Barley can be cooked in about half the time in a 6- to 8-quart pressure cooker. Follow recipe, cooking onion in pressure cooker, uncovered, then adding barley and wine as directed above. After adding asparagus-cooking liquid, seal pressure cooker with lid and cook at high pressure, according to manufacturer's instructions, 18 minutes. Put pressure cooker in sink (do not remove lid) and run cold water over lid until pressure goes down completely. Remove lid and continue with recipe, using pressure cooker (without lid) as a pot.
• Asparagus can be cut and cooked, chopped stalks puréed, and cooking water reserved 1 day ahead, then chilled in separate airtight containers.
Makes 4 servings.
White Asparagus with Hazelnuts in Browned Butter
2 pounds white asparagus
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Wash, dry and trim asparagus. In a large saute pan, heat butter over high/medium-high heat until it begins to brown slightly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to brown until butter is a nice golden/nutty color. Add olive oil, then saute shallots and hazelnuts for about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, tossing to cook well, about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and salt and stir to mix well. Serve warm. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Grilled Asparagus
1 pound asparagus, washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak 7 to 8 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Trim ends of asparagus by bending until they break. They will naturally snap above the woodiest part. Peel if they are very large and tough.
Skewer asparagus on skewers by piercing one skewer through asparagus near the tip and one skewer toward the bottom. Repeat with more asparagus, rotating the tips from one side to the other, placing 4 to 5 per skewer. This double skewer method will keep the asparagus from spinning when you try to turn them and also keep them from falling through the grates.
Mix together remaining ingredients and marinate asparagus for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat grill on high until hot. Reduce to medium flame and grill asparagus until done, 3 to 4 minutes, and longer if asparagus is thicker.They will be bright green and crisp tender. Watch carefully to avoid burning. Makes 4 servings.
Note: If using charcoal, light coals and get them very hot in the center. Grill asparagus around outside edges.
Asparagus Rollups
14 thin slices of white bread, crusts trimmed8 slices bacon, cooked till crisp, drained and crumbled8 ounces cream cheese, room temperatureFinely grated zest of one lemon28 asparagus spears, cooked crisp-tenderMelted butterFlatten the bread slices by rolling over them with a rolling pin. Combine the bacon, cream cheese, and lemon zest. Spread an even layer of the cream cheese mixture on each flattened bread slice.Place 2 asparagus spears, with the tips facing in opposite directions on one end of each bread slice. Roll up each slice like a jelly roll. Cut each roll in half and place seam side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet.Preheat broiler. Brush the tops and sides of the roll-ups with melted butter. Broil 6 inches from the heat until lightly browned and toasted.Serve immediately. Makes 28 rollups.
Fried Asparagus in Beer Batter
1 to 2 pounds asparagus1 cup flour1, 12 ounce, can of beerSalt, pepper, garlic powder, seasoned salt and Italian seasoning to tasteOlive oilMix flour and seasonings together. Add beer to dry ingredients, mixing slowly until thick enough to cling to asparagus. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces. Heat olive oil. Deep fry the coated asparagus in 2 inches of olive oil until golden brown, turning once.
Grilled Asparagus with Thyme Balsamic Vinaigrette
For the Asparagus:
1 lb. Fresh Asparagus- woody portions removed
2 T. Olive Oil
to taste Salt & Pepper
For the Vinaigrette:
1/2 C. Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. Honey
1 tsp. Dry English Mustard
4 sprigs Fresh Thyme- picked
1/2 tsp. Fresh Garlic- chopped
1 C. Pure Olive Oil
to taste Salt & Pepper
For the Vinaigrette:
1. Place Vinegar, Honey, Mustard, Thyme, and Fresh Garlic in a small mixing bowl and whisk together well.
2. Keeping your bowl steady slowly drizzle in the olive oil while vigorously whisking until the oil is all used.
3. Season with salt and pepper and hold until asparagus is finished.
For the Asparagus:
1. Toss the asparagus with olive oil and salt and pepper.
2. Grill asparagus on you outside grill or a stovetop grill pan until tender
3. Place on serving plate and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinaigrette
Wrapping up roasted asparagus in Ham
Vegetable takes well to ham in the oven
Witold T.Zalewski Last Updated: April 2, 2007
There are some old reliable, no-nonsense recipes - simply steaming or baking the asparagus.
One year I tried dipping the spears in an egg batter, then frying them in hot oil. It worked, sorta. Deep-fried asparagus, like deep-fried anything, tastes great. But when you fry a vegetable in oil, you plunge it into the realm of saturated and trans-unsaturated fats, a realm where the health benefits are minimal. Plus you make a mess in the kitchen.
When asparagus is roasted, the flavors intensify.
The recipe called for wrapping five to six spears of asparagus with strips of pancetta. But I did not have any of the salt-cured pork in my fridge.
I did have some thin slices of prosciutto - Italian-style ham - as well as some slices of country ham. So I substituted the hams, wrapping them around the asparagus spears, and cooked them in a preheated 400-degree oven.
The country ham worked better than the prosciutto. The former held its shape in the heat of the oven, while the prosciutto turned into ham chips.
Once they came out of the oven, the ham-wrapped asparagus bunches were greeted with a vinaigrette made of honey, sherry vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and sliced shallots.
It was a dish that worked. It looked interesting.
Hot Roasted Asparagus
cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced lengthwise
2 pounds raw untrimmed asparagus
8 thin slices pancetta (or substitute polską surową dojrzewającą szynkę)
Place sherry vinegar and honey in a small bowl and whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil. Season with coarse salt and pepper and add the shallot slices. Set vinaigrette aside.
Arrange asparagus spears on 1 or 2 baking sheets in 8 groups of 5 or 6 spears. Brush them with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.
If using pancetta, bring a small pot of water to a boil, blanch the pancetta slices in it for 30 seconds. Drain them on paper towels. (If using ham, skip this step.)
Lay a slice of the meat across the bottom half of each asparagus bunch. Roast on center rack of preheated 400-degree oven until asparagus spears have browned slightly, about 15 minutes. (Note: If you prefer asparagus well-browned, cook them in oven without the meat for 10 to 12 minutes, remove from oven and using a spatula, tuck ham around bunches of spears and put them back in oven for 5 to 10 minutes.) Use a spatula to lift the meat-wrapped asparagus bunches onto salad plates. Spoon vinaigrette over each portion. Makes 8 servings
Thai-Inspired Stir-Fry
SERVES 2 TO 4—Low-Fat This serves 2 hungry people as a main course or 4 people along with other side dishes. • 14 oz. firm tofu, drained • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil, or more to taste • 3 Tbs. thinly sliced garlic (about 5 large cloves) • 4 4-inch-long pieces lemongrass • 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed and spears peeled and blanched • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped • 1/2 lb. sugar snap peas or snow peas • 2 tsp. granulated sugar • Salt to taste • 1/8 tsp. red Thai chili paste, or more to taste • 12 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, or more to taste • 2 to 4 tsp. finely chopped cilantro, or more to taste, for garnish 1. Slice tofu into pieces 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch x 2 inches. Place on triple layers of paper towels, top with another triple layer of paper towels and press out excess moisture. 2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add tofu, and cook for about 5 minutes, turning over once or twice, until golden brown. Using a slotted spatula, remove pieces to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside. 3. Add garlic and lemongrass to skillet, and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, or until garlic becomes fragrant. Using a slotted spoon, remove garlic and discard. Leave lemongrass in skillet. 4. Cut asparagus spears into 11/2-inch lengths. Add scallions, asparagus and sugar snap peas to skillet, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add sugar, salt and chili paste, and stir. Add mushrooms and soy sauce, bring to a boil, cover and cook for 2 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender and have released their juices. Serve hot over rice, and garnish with cilantro. Thai Shrimp and Asparagus When the shrimp have cooked and the asparagus spears are bright green and still crisp, spoon everything onto a plate, sprinkle cilantro and sesame seeds on top, and you have one of the most interesting combinations of sweet and hot flavors around. A possible side dish to enhance the
Steamed Asparagus with Ginger Garlic Sauce

2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into ½-inch thick slices.2 tsp. cornstarch½ cup water2 Tbs. soy sauce1 Tbs. medium-dry Sherry1 tsp. sugar½ tsp. salt1 tsp. sesame oil1 Tbs. vegetable oil2 Tbs. minced peeled fresh gingerroot1 ½ Tbs. minced garlic2 Tbs. sesame seeds, toasted lightlyCooked rice, if desired.Add asparagus to a pot of rapidly boiling water and cook till crisp-tender, 2-4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water for a few minutes, then drain well.In a small bowl stir together cornstarch and water till dissolved and stir in soy sauce, Sherry, sugar, salt and sesame oil.Heat a large heavy skillet or wok over high heat till hot and add vegetable oil. Heat vegetable oil till hot but not smoking, and stir-fry gingerroot and garlic 30 seconds. Add asparagus and stir-fry 30 seconds. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to asparagus. Bring liquid to a boil, stirring, ad stir-fry mixture till asparagus is well coated. Sprinkle asparagus with sesame seeds and toss. Serves 4-6.Asparagus Stir Fry with Black Bean Sauce2 Tbs. dry white wine or mirin1 Tbs. cornstarch¼ cup Chinese black bean sauce2 garlic cloves, minced3 slices fresh ginger, minced1 Tbs. vegetable oil1 cup vegetable or chicken broth2 Tbs. light soy sauce1 ½ lbs. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces3 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces (green & white parts)1 Tbs. slivered almonds or chopped cashewsRed pepper flakes to tasteIn a small bowl, mix mirin or wine with cornstarch until smooth; set aside. In another small bowl, mix black bean sauce with garlic and ginger; set aside.Heat oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Add black bean mixture; cook, stirring constantly till well blended, about 1 minute.Increase heat to medium-high. Add asparagus and scallions; cook, stirring, till vegetables are crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Add additional broth or water if necessary to prevent sticking.Transfer vegetables to a serving platter. Leave broth in pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; stir till sauce thickens, 1-2 minutes. Pour sauce over asparagus and sprinkle with almonds. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve over cooked rice. 4 servings.
Thai Shrimp and Asparagus
jasmine rice. It is starchier and stickier than long-grain converted rice and more flavorful. I use Thai Kitchen Sweet Red Chile Sauce. Makes 2 to 4 servings ½ cup Thai chile sauce ¼ cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or water ½ pound already peeled and deveined medium-size shrimp Water 16 medium-size asparagus spears (about half a pound) 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds (see note) Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 6 to 8 minutes. In medium skillet, bring chile sauce and broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add shrimp, reduce heat to medium and cook, turning shrimp until they turn pink and opaque and are cooked through and sauce thickens somewhat, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, pour water to a depth of 1 inch in a large skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Rinse asparagus spears and snap off and discard their tough ends. When water comes to a boil, add asparagus and reduce heat to medium. Let asparagus simmer until it turns bright green, 3 minutes. Drain water from skillet, cut asparagus into serving pieces, and then add soy sauce to asparagus. To serve, spoon shrimp onto plates. Garnish shrimp with asparagus, cilantro and sesame seeds, if using. Note: Toast sesame seeds in a small heavy, dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring until seeds turn golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not use a non-stick skillet for this.
Asparagus and Bacon Fondue
4 tablespoons of butter.4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.2 cups of milk.16 ounces of asparagus spears, drained and chopped.2 slices of bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled.French bread, diced into one-inch cubes.Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.Asparagus and Bacon Fondue:4 tablespoons of butter.4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.2 cups of milk.16 ounces of asparagus spears, drained and chopped.2 slices of bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled.French bread, diced into one-inch cubes.Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.In a fondue pot, melt the butter.Add the flour, mix thoroughly and cook while stirring for 90 seconds.Gently stir in the two cups of milk.Heat, while stirring, until mixture becomes thick.Stir in the bacon and the asparagus.Season with salt and black pepper.Serve with diced bread
The unofficial national dish of Spain, paella makes a fantastic main course for entertaining. Once you've prepped the components a couple of hours ahead, the finished product comes together in about 30 minutes. Just add a green salad dressed with Sherry vinaigrette. What to drink: Chilled Spanish rosé (called Rosado
1 pound slender asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch lengths
5 cups (about) low-salt chicken broth, divided
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails left intact, shells reserved
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Spanish chorizo sausage links (6 ounces), casings removed
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large tomato (12 to 13 ounces), halved, seeded, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup drained roasted canned Piquillo peppers or drained roasted red peppers from jar, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Pimentón de la Vera (hot Spanish smoked paprika) or hot Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups Spanish Bomba rice, Italian arborio rice, or medium-grain white rice (about 17 ounces)
18 small littleneck clams (about 1 1/4 pounds), scrubbed
24 mussels, scrubbed, debearded
5 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
Lemon wedges
Cook asparagus in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Bring 4 1/2 cups broth to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add reserved shrimp shells; simmer 10 minutes. Bring wine to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; add saffron and set aside 5 minutes to steep. Strain saffron-infused wine into 8-cup measuring cup. Strain in shrimp broth. Add enough chicken broth to measure 5 cups broth mixture.
Heat oil in large wide pot (at least 3 inches deep) over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and sauté until lightly browned, breaking into 1/2-inch pieces with side of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add onions. Reduce heat to medium and sauté until onions are slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 2 minutes. Add tomato and peppers. Sauté until tomato is soft and juices evaporate, about 3 minutes. Mix in paprika and salt, then rice. (Asparagus, broth mixture, and rice mixture can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Let each stand at room temperature.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Add broth mixture to rice mixture and bring to boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pot from heat. Scatter shrimp over. Tuck clams and mussels into rice mixture, hinged side down. Place pot in oven and bake paella, uncovered, 15 minutes. Sprinkle peas and asparagus over. Continue to bake until broth is absorbed, rice is tender, and clams and mussels open, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer pot to work surface. Cover with foil; let stand 5 minutes.
Transfer paella to large shallow dish. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
Makes 6 servings.
1 1/2 pounds medium shallots (about 24), peeled, halved lengthwise4 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs made from French bread 1 1/2 pounds farfalle (bow-tie) pasta2 pounds thin asparagus, trimmed, cut diagonally into 11/2-inch pieces1 pound creamy blue cheese (such as Saga blue or Gorgonzola), cut into 1/2-inch pieces Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss shallots with 2 tablespoons oil on baking sheet; spread in single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Stir 2 tablespoons oil and breadcrumbs in skillet over medium heat until crumbs brown, about 4 minutes. (Shallots and crumbs can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover separately; keep at room temperature.) Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water 10 minutes. Add asparagus; cook until asparagus is crisp-tender and pasta is tender but still firm to bite, about 4 minutes. Drain pasta and asparagus. Transfer to large bowl. Immediately add blue cheese and shallots. Toss until cheese melts and pasta is well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowls. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Makes 6 servings.
Asparagus Fettuccine with Avocado
4 oz. uncooked spinach fettuccine4 oz. uncooked regular fettuccine2 Tbs. olive oil3-4 Tbs. good-quality balsamic vinegar1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces1 sweet onion, very thinly sliced1 medium ripe avocado, cut into ¼- inch cubes and sprinkled with a little lemon juice½ red pepper, stemmed, seeded and dicedSalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook fettuccine till al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with oil and vinegar. Set aside.Bring water to boil in a medium saucepan and cook asparagus till barely tender, 2-3 minutes. Drain. Toss asparagus with fettuccine. Add onion and sprinkle with cubed avocado and red pepper. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Alpine Asparagus Quiche
1 unbaked deep-dish, 9-inch pie shell1 pound asparagus, washed, trimmed, blanched for 5-10 minutes, and drained¾ cup each milk and half-and-half½ cup finely chopped onion¼ teaspoon each salt, nutmeg and black pepper3 eggs, slightly beaten1 cup shredded Swiss cheeseBake pie shell at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine milk, cream, onion, salt, nutmeg and pepper in saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer 1 minute. Stir hot mixture into eggs. Sprinkle 2/3 of the cheese into the pie shell. Arrange asparagus over the cheese, trimming spears if necessary. Pour in egg mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-26 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from center comes out clean. Serves 6.
Grilled Asparagus Bruschetta with Chèvre and Tapenade
SERVES 4—Egg-free
This makes a hearty hors d’oeuvre or a rustic first course.
• 2 Tbs. olive oil plus extra for drizzling
• 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed and spears peeled and blanched
• 4 slices Italian country bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
• 1 large clove garlic, peeled and sliced
• 4 tsp. tapenade, or more to taste
• 4 oz. mild chèvre such as Montrachet cheese
• 1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a ridged grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook, turning frequently, until tender and golden brown. Remove from pan, and set aside.
2. Rub both sides of bread with cut side of garlic. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to a ridged grill pan or skillet, and heat over medium heat. Place bread in pan, and cook for about 4 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp. Remove from pan, and let stand until cool enough to handle.
3. Spread 1 teaspoon tapenade on one side of each bread slice. Top tapenade with 1 ounce chèvre, either spreading cheese or crumbling it. Top chèvre with asparagus, cut to fit bread. Scatter olives over top, drizzle with olive oil and season with black pepper. Cut in half, and serve warm.
Slow-Scrambled Eggs over Asparagus
Scrambled eggs as smooth and creamy as a well-crafted custard are easy to produce if you do it the French way—using room temperature eggs cooked very slowly over low heat.
• 2 bagels, cut horizontally through center into thirds or quarters
• 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed and spears peeled
• 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
• 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1 Tbs. minced red onion
1. Preheat oven to broil.
2. Toast bagel disks lightly, remove from oven and set aside. Steam or blanch asparagus, drain thoroughly and set aside.
3. Sliver 3 tablespoons butter. Beat eggs in a bowl. Melt several butter slivers in a large nonstick saucepan over very low heat. Add eggs, and stir continuously with a wooden spoon for 15 to 20 minutes, adding slivers of butter occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and when it melts, add asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.
5. To serve, arrange asparagus spears on warm plates, top with eggs, sprinkle with red onion and serve with bagel crisps.
Asparagus Chowder
SERVES 8—Low-Fat
This pretty soup is just the right weight for March’s sweater weather. You can make the croutons up to 1 day in advance, and store them in an airtight container.
Parmesan Croutons (optional)
• 6 slices (1/2-inch thick) Italian country bread
• 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Asparagus Stock
• 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed
• 1 Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
• 1 small bay leaf
• 1 large carrot, trimmed, peeled and roughly chopped
• 1 large stalk celery with leaves, roughly chopped
• 6 stems fresh parsley
• 1 tsp. salt
• 8 cups cold water
• 5 Tbs. olive oil
• 1 Vidalia onion, finely chopped
• 1 lb. new potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed and discarded
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/2 cup milk, heavy cream or half-and-half
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. To make Parmesan Croutons: Preheat broiler. Adjust rack to 8 inches below broiler.
2. Brush both sides of bread with oil, and place slices on a baking sheet. Broil for 3 to 10 minutes, turning as needed, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven, and, when cool enough to handle, slice into cubes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until golden. Remove from oven, and set aside.
3. To make Asparagus Stock: Cut tips off asparagus, and set aside for garnish. Place asparagus spears in a soup pot with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain into a bowl, reserving liquid. Discard solids. Measure 6 cups stock; if you have less, add enough water to measure 6 cups.
4. To make Soup: While stock cooks, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add half the onion, all potatoes and water. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring several times, until vegetables are soft. Cut tips off asparagus, and set aside with other tips for garnish. Cut asparagus spears into 1-inch-long pieces.
5. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add remaining onions and asparagus spear pieces, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes or until onions have softened. Add salt and strained Asparagus Stock, and bring to a slow boil. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 4 to 8 minutes, or until asparagus are tender, exact timing depending on size and freshness of asparagus. Using a slotted spoon, remove asparagus from pot, and put into a food processor. Process until smooth, adding stock as needed for processing. Transfer purée to a very fine strainer, and press through to remove tough fibers. Return purée to soup pot. Add potatoes and onions, and stir to mix. Add milk, salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat. 6. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus tips, and cook until just tender. Remove from heat, and strain.
7. To serve, ladle soup into bowls, garnish each serving with asparagus tips and pass croutons, if using. Offer extra freshly ground black pepper.
Asparagus, Leek and Potato Soup
¼ cup & 2 tablespoons butter3 large leeks (white part and only 1-inch of green part), chopped½ teaspoon thyme or fine herbs, crumbled1 bay leaf6 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth1 & ½ pounds small new potatoes, quartered1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch piecesSalt and pepper to tasteMelt ¼ cup butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add leeks, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook till leeks are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus and simmer until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining butter if desired. Reheat and serve hot. Serves 6-8.
Roasted Asparagus and Shrimp Chowder
10 large asparagus spears, tough ends removed 20 large shrimp, about 1 lb. total, peeled and deveined2 tsp. olive oil1 small fennel bulb1 leek, including 2 inches of green, chopped1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)1 tsp. herbes de Provence 3 cups vegetable broth1 russet potato, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch dice1 cup fat-free evaporated skimmed milkSalt and freshly ground pepper, to tastePreheat an oven to 425°F.Place the asparagus and the shrimp on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat them with the oil and then spread out in a single layer. Roast until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Turn the asparagus over and continue to roast until just tender, about 8 minutes more. Remove from the oven and, when cool enough to handle, cut into 1-inch lengths.Meanwhile, cut off the stems, feathery tops and any bruised outer stalks from the fennel bulb. Reserve the tops. Cut away and discard the core, then chop the bulb; set aside. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the fennel, leek, red pepper and herbes de Provence and sauté until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the broth and potato and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the fennel is tender, about 15 minutes. Pour in the milk and bring the soup back to a simmer. Add the shrimp and asparagus and stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.Ladle into warmed bowls. Garnish each serving with the reserved fennel tops. Serve hot. Serves 6.
This pasta showcases spring produce.
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup (packed) sliced shallots
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (if using fresh morels)
2/3 cup whipping cream
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided
12 ounces fettuccine
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
If using dried morels, place in 2-cup measuring cup and pour enough hot water over to reach 2-cup mark. Let soak until soft, pushing down occasionally if morels rise to top, about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving soaking liquid; add enough water to measure 1 1/4 cups if needed. Cut large morels in half.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and fresh or reconstituted morels; sauté until shallots are tender, about 6 minutes. Add asparagus and 1 1/4 cups broth (if using fresh morels) or reserved soaking liquid (if using dried morels). Bring to boil, cover, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in cream and 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon. Simmer uncovered until sauce thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and sauce; toss. Transfer to bowl; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon tarragon. Serve with remaining Parmesan cheese. One serving contains the following: 719.54 Calories (kcal), 41.5 % Calories from Fat, 33.20 g Fat, 18.81 g Saturated Fat, 96.84 mg Cholesterol, 77.23 g Carbohydrates, 5.82 g Dietary Fiber, 5.14 g Total Sugars, 71.41 g Net Carbs, 29.05 g Protein

Chilled asparagus with mustard herb vinaigrette 2 pounds asparagus2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar2 teaspoons Dijon mustard1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leavesSalt and pepper as neededDash of onion powderDash of garlic powder1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oilBring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.Trim the asparagus to remove the white, fibrous ends and cut the usable stalks on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces.Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until the spears are bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. (If necessary, cook the asparagus in batches.) Drain the asparagus in a colander and rinse with cold water until the asparagus is chilled. It is ready to dress and serve now, or it can be held in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, parsley, tarragon, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder until blended. Add the oil to the vinegar mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Toss the chilled asparagus with the vinaigrette or pass it separately on the side. Serve immediately on a chilled platter or plates. Makes 8 servings.
Salad of Asparagus, Mâche, Endive and Orange Vinaigrette
SERVES 4—Low-Fat
This versatile salad works well as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to a main course. Select a dressing that is also slightly sweet.
• 1 lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed and spears peeled
• Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
• 2 Tbs. blood orange vinegar or white wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup mild olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 2 Belgian endive, trimmed and leaves separated
• 4 oz. mâche, mesclun or baby spinach
• Salad dressing as desired
1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add asparagus, and reduce heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 3 to 8 minutes, depending on size and freshness of asparagus, or just until tender. Drain, and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again, and place on paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
2. Mix orange zest and juice with vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl, and taste for seasoning.
3. To serve, place endive and asparagus on salad plates. Top with mâche, and drizzle with dressing of choice. Serve at room temperature.
Shrimp and Asparagus Salad
1 pound cooked and peeled shrimp1 pound asparagus tips, cooked until tender-crisp (about 5 minutes)½ cup chopped pimentos¼ cup finely chopped parsley½ teaspoon each white pepper and celery seed1 teaspoon salt1 tablespoon horseradish1 cup mayonnaise¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice2 hard-boiled eggs, dicedLemon wedgesEndive or green leaf lettuceBlend shrimp, asparagus, parsley, pimentos, lemon juice, spices, mayonnaise and horseradish. To serve, place on endive or green leaf lettuce. Garnish each serving with a lemon wedge and top with diced egg. Serves 4.
Warm Asparagus & Parmesan
Salad 2 lbs. Asparagus, peeled and cut into 1" pieces2 tsp. fresh lemon juice3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oilfresh pepper4 oz. Parmesan cheese, in 1 piece4 cups mixed greensAdd asparagus to a large pot of boiling, salted water. Cook 3-5 minutes, till barely crisp-tender. Drain briefly under cold water. Spears should still be warm.Toss asparagus with lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper to taste. With a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of parmesan on top. Make a bed of greens on a serving plate and mound the asparagus on top. Serve at once.
Chinese Asparagus Salad
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed1 tablespoon soy sauce1 tablespoon sesame oil1 teaspoon rice vinegar1 & ½ teaspoons sugar Slice the asparagus diagonally into 2-inch lengths, keeping the tip and the stems separate.Combine the soy sauce, oil, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over moderate heat just till the sugar dissolves. There will be a small amount of sauce. Set aside.Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in the stems and cook 1 minute. Add the tops and cook 1 minute more. Drain and under cold water.Put the asparagus in a bowl, add the soy mixture, and toss.Serve at room temperature on lettuce leaves. Serves 4.
Asparagus with Hazelnuts and Tarragon Vinaigrette
1 pound fresh, trimmed asparagus¼ cup minced shallots3 Tbs. tarragon-flavored white wine vinegar4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1¼ tsps. Dried)1 tsp. Dijon mustard7 Tbs. hazelnut, walnut or olive oil4 cups baby lettuces or inner leaves of curly endive¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and coarsely choppedSteam asparagus till crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a boll of ice water and cool. Drain. Place asparagus on paper towels. Combine shallots, vinegar, tarragon and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Place the lettuces or endive on a large platter. Arrange the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, then sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serves 4.

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