Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sautéed Aparagus Ribbons

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Asparagus spring up out of the ground almost overnight, and it's the farmer's job to snip them off promptly.  If the shoot is allowed too much time the tip will open up, leading to bitterness, and the stem can become fibrous, mandating annoying peeling and sometimes flossing.

When buying aspargus, look for tightly closed tips, taught surface area and a sturdy trunk.  Most importantly, the stem of the shoot should look freshly cut.  If you see, dry withered ends move on, ideally you'll find something more like this:

As with many vegetables, asparagus are best consumed as close  to the time of purchase as possible.  If you know you won't get to them for a couple of days, you should treat them like flowers. Give the stems a short trim and place them upright in a vessel with a little water,  store them in the fridge. 

To prep asparagus for cooking, usually you cut off the ends.  As a reference of where to cut, pull a spear from a quasi uniform bunch of asparagus.  Hold it at either end and bend until it snaps.  It will break close to the place where you should cut it.  You can then cut the whole bunch in one swoop.  For bigger asparagus you may still want to peel a little of the outside skin down toward the cut end, but that won't be an issue with this recipe:

Asparagus Ribbons with Lemon Caper Butter
1  Bunch  asparagus
1  tbsp    capers, chopped*
2  tbsps   white wine,
1  tbsp    butter
Juice of one lemon

1.  Holding the asparagus by the head, use a vegetable peeler to peel until there’s nothing left for a ribbon-like effect.  Nip off the head (half the big ones lengthwise) and set aside.

2.  Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. First drop in the asparagus tips and sauté until just cooked through (3-4 min), then add the ribbons, capers, and wine, stirring continuously until just softened. (1-2min.)

3. Finish with the butter, the lemon juice, and salt to taste. But be sure to taste, because the capers can be quite salty.

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