All Things Yum: An Ode to Asparagus, by Mary Waserstein
Certain veggies I always view as harbingers of Spring, and Asparagus is Spring’s culinary poster child! Things like ramps and fiddlehead ferns (both of which I really adore) have gained more attention of late, but Asparagus remains the gold standard of the spring veggie.
Whenever I start seeing its lovely green stalks bundled up at the market I know that daffodils and crocus are right around the corner. Easter dinner would not be the same without a platter piled high with Asparagus covered in a bright yellow hollandaise. Obviously, one cannot get through the spring solely on Hollandaise covered Asparagus (unless you are trying to bulk up for the summer) so I started using asparagus in all types of dishes.
Simply steamed with a fresh grating of parmesan cheese is a lovely side dish. Blanched and served chilled with a tart vinaigrette is a wonderful way to start any meal. Baked it in a creamy béchamel makes a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meat. I’ve served it blanched and wrapped in Prosciutto at cocktail parties with a glass of Prosecco. Remember, according to Emily Post one can eat Asparagus with his or her fingers and still be within the confines of good manners! You have to love the finger food exceptions to good manners.
Asparagus has a unique flavor all it’s own that pairs wonderfully with the nuttiness of Fregula. Fregula is a Sardinian pasta with a taste best described as a cross between Isreali Cous Cous and a crusty piece of bread. This dish certainly stands on its own as an entree and would be great with a green salad.
Fregula with Asparagus and White Beans
serves 6 generously
3 cups Fregula
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 bunch asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup fresh dill finely chopped
1 can Cannellini Beans rinsed and drained
1/2 tspn lemon zest
1/2 cup Locatelli
Cook Fregula for 10 mins, add beans cook for another 2 minutes, add asparagus stir for 1 minute. Turn off heat and let sit for a couple of minutes stirring occasionally. Add the dill cheese and lemon zest and mix well. Season with salt and fresh black pepper. Plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
* if the cooking liquid seems to be very low, remember that you are not draining this pasta and you will end with a dish which is similar to Risotto.
** Guest Post written by Mary Waserstein. Mary is a lifelong New Yorker and East Hamptonite. All Things Yum was born from Mary’s love of cooking and entertaining as well as interior design. The featured recipes vary from the mid-week quickie to the more involved recipes for the leisurely weekend. Mary’s recipes focus on homestyle meals that work equally well for the casual family dinner or a more upscale evening. Throw in a dash of design and you have All Things Yum! http://www.allthingsyum.com **