Because asparagus is in season.
Somewhere.

March 28, 2012 · 14 comments

asparagus-tied

We drove down to Bloomington today — the kids are on spring break, and since I’d like to be the “fun mom” at least one or two days out of the 14 they’ll be home, we went with friends to the Wonderlab — a small but all-around awesome science museum in the town that’s home to Indiana University. It’s a heavy hour drive south on a state highway — and on the way down, we were driving through some small nameless (to me) town, and passed what appeared to be a chain restaurant with a giant sign hanging on the outside, advertising the “Asparagus Festival.” Which is funny, since asparagus is totally not in season here right now. They’re off by a quarter year.

asparagus-colander

I can only assume this chain restaurant must be headquartered somewhere in California. Where asparagus is coming into season, which means we can buy it at our grocery store for about $3 a pound.

Asparagus is so elegant. It has the magical ability to dress up most anything it shares a plate with — from eggs to a simple green salad. When asparagus is added to a thing, it becomes instantly presentable. Which is why, once I start seeing it in my grocery, shipped from California, I buy it, instead of waiting for the 2-week window in July when we can buy it locally-grown at our farmer’s market.

Wild. And. Crazy. I am.

A pivotal moment in life came when I read somewhere (was it Julia Child? Chris Kimball? can’t be sure) that instead of breaking off the tough ends of your asparagus spears, which sometimes leaves you discarding half the stalk — you can just cut off the bottom inch or so, and peel the lower half to increase your asparagus real estate.

I almost doubled my asparagus intake in that one tip. It was beautiful.

asparagus-peeling

My very favorite way to cook asparagus is roasting it. This method does come from Chris Kimball — in his Cook’s Bible. But the method is so simple I’ve memorized it, it’s really not a recipe at all. I love that this can be done in my toaster oven, and it takes just ten minutes. Roasting deepens flavors in a way that steaming or boiling does not, and gives that completely delightful crunch on the ends, if you let it go long enough.

asparagus-roasted

Leftovers? I’ve eaten them cold out of the refrigerator, standing there with the door open. If you are more civilized, you can chop them and add them to a salad, or reheat them in a hot skillet before you whip up a lunchtime omelet.

Or claim an Asparagus Festival, right in your kitchen, and do whatever that dictates.

……………………………………………………………

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus

: closely inspired by a method found in The Cook’s Bible, by Christopher Kimball

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°, and have a baking sheet ready.
  2. Wash asparagus spears, and cut off the bottom inch or so, just the very toughest ends. Using a vegetable peeler, peel any remaining tough skin off the lower half of the spears. (They cook more evenly if they are a somewhat consistent thickness all the way down.)
  3. Toss spears with olive oil, and spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, or until spears are tender, and just beginning to brown on top ends.
  4. Season with salt, and serve immediately.

Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.

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{ 14 comments }

Beth (OMG! Yummy) March 29, 2012 at 2:03 am

Katy – yes it is starting to appear in our stores just in time for Easter and Passover. Roasting is the best – just did it last night and subbed in a bit of blood orange olive oil w the regular and splashed a bit of balsamic at the end. Yum!

Your pictures in this post are really lovely. If you want to come and take my photos – I’ll keep you in year round supply of asparagus. Really I will!

katy March 29, 2012 at 10:58 am

Ok, Beth — I’m ready for my trip to CA when you are ; )

The blood orange olive oil sounds amazing. We’ve got a local vendor of specialty oils and vinegars — I’ve been stuck in a habit of just buying their 10-year balsamic but I need to venture out. Thanks for the tip!

Meg March 29, 2012 at 5:48 am

Must be asparagus time(ish) around the world! There’s heaps in my supermarket here in Australia, and I did a roast vegie salad thing, which I was coming on to blog but got distracted by your new update :)

katy March 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

Meg, I see you got the recipe up, it looks so tempting! I’ll have to sub extra winter squash for the potato since I’m currently starch-free — but I plan to try this one sometime very soon. Thanks!

Dad March 29, 2012 at 8:34 am

Gonnie had asparagus planted in her flower beds between the shrubs and the house. It takes a while to start producing but once established, it comes back every year. You did have to pick the sprouts at the right time or they became VERY tough.

By the way, I already have little tomatoes! I saw the first ones yesterday. I had never even planted this early much less started producing this early. We have had one warm winter!

katy March 29, 2012 at 11:03 am

Dad, I’ve toyed with the idea of growing asparagus — Tim’s parents had it in their garden when he was growing up. I can’t decide if the real estate would be worth the yield — we have limited garden space.

Can’t believe you already have tomatoes. That’s crazy! A mild winter indeed.

Dad March 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I presume they like shade as Gonnie’s were in a long line on the North side of the house and as I said, behind the shrubs. They look up very little space and came back every year. I thought they were wild but she had planted them. I think it takes a couple of seasons for them to be very good.

katy March 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm

well then, we might have to look into that. I knew that it took 2 years to get stalks, we’d just have to be patient ; )

Rebekah March 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

leftover asparagus? i have never had leftover asparagus. :)

Rebekah March 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm

as in, i’ve never had any left after the meal.

katy March 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm

:)
You might if you cook a whole pound, and your children refuse to eat it…

Angie @ Just Like The Number March 30, 2012 at 9:15 am

Is it not in season here yet? There’s a large garden near our neighborhood that grows it every year (it’s so beautiful), and I noticed the other day that she had just harvested some. I always assumed it was an early spring crop in Indiana.

katy April 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Maybe? I know it never shows up at the farmer’s market until June or even July. Maybe because it was such a mild winter?

Lisa @ Snappy Gourmet April 7, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I love roasted asparagus! I think I could eat it every day! I like to put a little lemon zest on mine.

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