Thursday, April 23, 2009
Is it asparagus season yet?
It is said that when asparagus tips poke through the ground, their progress is so rapid you can almost watch them grow. Once picked, it is an extremely perishable product, the sugars quickly turn to starch. Coming to us at time-lapse-photography speed, fresh asparagus is here!... and it is a true seasonal luxury. Good news is, we can enjoy its season now until mid-June. The bad news is, for the rest of the year we have access to a vegetable that is inferior to its fresh, local counterpart.
At the market, look for straight, firm, bright green spears tipped with purple shadows. If they are bunched together, be sure the band is not too tight having crushed those in the center. They should be held in water or refrigeration, preferably out of the sun. At home, store your brand-new asparagus upright in a jar with an inch of water at the bottom, tops wrapped in a damp paper-towel. Before cooking, cut off the bottom three inches. Some folks peel the stems if they are thick, but if it is very fresh, this is not necessary.
Here is a super-simple recipe for roasting asparagus in the oven. Consider it a jumping off point and dress it up by using any herbs or spices you like. I sprinkled on some crushed vietnamese chili peppers and tossed the veggies in bacon fat instead of oil. They were eaten just like that on the first day and folded into an omelette the next.
OVEN ROASTED ASPARAGUS
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons oil
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Toss spears in oil and spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 8-10 minutes, giving the pan a good shake halfway through cooking.