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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chasing Asparagus

I've been chasing down  fresh spring asparagus for weeks. Granted, I probably jumped the gun hoping that I might catch an early crop at the indoor market. Nope. Vendors hoped to have fresh asparagus for opening day of the outdoor farmers' market, but our late spring frosts nipped those dreams in the bud. Apparently, it's going to be a short asparagus season.

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.

Very simple.

Most of the asparagus spears were snipped into short nubs, so I took that cue and sliced the tips on a severe bias into 2 1/2 inch batons. I julienned  a red bell pepper, slivered a medium sized shallot, and tossed them into a bowl with the asparagus tips. After liberally seasoning the vegetables with kosher salt and cracked black pepper, I drizzled them with  olive oil before scattering them into a heavy cast iron skillet. I tucked a few thinly sliced lemons into the asparagus spears and slid them into a 400 degree oven to roast for 12 minutes.

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.


1 comment:

mary martha said...

OMG I love asparagus and this just made me drool!
I have to try this. Thanks again for your beautiful descriptions and inspiration