I got lucky. Over brunch cocktails, Michael and I watched the farmers' market vendors break down their booths for the day. Before they packed everything away, I dashed over and snagged the last bundle of purple-tipped asparagus from Elmwood Stock Farm. They weren't the dainty perfectly uniform pencil-thin variety of asparagus. Rubber-banded, with a few nubby stragglers, they were rough looking. Hardy. Strong. The dirt covered spears looked as if they had survived, clipped from the soil to save them from the next frost. That's what I found beautiful about them. Thick. Dirty. Gnarled. Gorgeous.
I didn't want to get heavy handed and muck up the freshness of the asparagus, so I took a very simple approach with the first frost survivors of the season.
I pulled the asparagus tips from the oven, splashed them with fresh lemon juice
and served them straight from the hot skillet.
The achingly fresh asparagus tips were crisp, tender, and deceivingly delicate. While the caramelized shallots and softened red peppers added subtle sweetness, the lemons provided balance with soft bright acidity.