asparagus

Cream of Asparagus Soup

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I know asparagus are available all year, but they have the most depth of flavor right now, when you can get the local ones that taste like springtime. Like asparagus are supposed to taste.

On the other hand, although I would suggest making this soup now, it's good any old time because its very simplicity gets the most out of the asparagus taste.

The dish is versatile too: make it dairy or dairy-free (see the recipe options).

And easy: 8 ingredients including salt, pepper and garnish.

Makes a lovely first course for summer dinner.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or a mixture of olive oil and butter
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup white rice or a small, chopped all-purpose potato
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 13/ to 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
  • chopped chives, scallions or Aleppo pepper for garnish

Wash the asparagus and chop the spears into chunks. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallot and asparagus and saute for 1-2 minutes to soften the vegetables slightly and coat them with oil. Stir in the rice, pour in the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Puree the ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. Stir in the cream, reheat and serve garnished with chives, scallions or a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.

NOTE: this may be served chilled OR hot.

Makes 4-6 servings

White Asparagus with Tomato Vinaigrette

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Among the delicious foods I feasted on on our recent trip to Eastern Europe were these: white asparagus, which is in season NOW. In the U.S. too. 

I found these beautiful spears at Fairway and prepared them exactly as I had them for dinner one night in Vienna.

Yes, these were dinner.

Ok, ok, I had a few rolls with a lot of butter too.

And strudel with schlag for dessert.

If you've never tasted white asparagus, you are in for a treat. They are milder and sweeter than the green ones and take a few minutes longer to cook because they are usually thicker. But, if you can't find these, use regular green asparagus (adjust cooking time depending on thickness of the spears).

 

White Asparagus with Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 1 pound white asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 hard cooked egg yolk, sieved or mashed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Remove the fibrous bottoms of each asparagus spear. Poach the asparagus in lightly salted water for 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness, or until tender. Drain under cold water and set aside in a serving dish. Whisk the olive oil and wine vinegar together until well blended. Add the tomato and egg yolk, stir and pour over the asparagus. Toss to coat every spear. Sprinkle with parsley, salt and pepper. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Makes 4 servings

Grilled Asparagus Salad

When the weather is hot and sticky I find myself yearning for fruits and vegetables, not meat. I want salads, cold rice or noodles. Easy food, easy to prepare, easy to digest.

I recently had some grilled asparagus left over and used them for salad the next day. This dish was the perfect accompaniment to a rice salad that had other leftover vegetables in it!

 

Grilled Asparagus Salad

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups mixed cut up salad greens
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue or feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill (or turn oven to 450 degrees). Trim the asparagus and place them in a shallow dish. Pour about 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over the asparagus and roll the spears to coat them evenly. Grill the spears, turning them once or twice, for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness. Cut the spears into bite size pieces and place in a salad bowl. Add the salad greens, tomatoes and cheese and toss the ingredients. Mix the remaining olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and mustard and pour the dressing over the salad. Toss and taste. Add more vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings

Asparagus Salad with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese

Mother’s Day plans got me thinking about some of the so-called “liberating” trends for women.  Like canned foods, which were, and did, make it easier for  housewives  to get dinner on the table. They no longer had to clean and cook veggies, for example. All they had to do was open the can and heat the stuff in a pot. (I knew someone who cooked canned food in the can to save on pot cleaning.)  Unfortunately, although canned vegetables did save work and time, they weren’t very tasty. They were also mushy and salty and lacked the nutritional value of fresh produce.  It doesn’t take much time to clean and cook fresh asparagus. Just a matter of rinsing them and cutting off the woody bottom, then either steaming, poaching, grilling or roasting them for a few minutes.  In fact asparagus is one of the quickest and easiest vegetables to cook. We eat them regularly, sprinkled with a little lemon juice.  When I have more time I use asparagus for salad. Like this one:     Asparagus Salad with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese         1/4 cup chopped almonds    1 pound slim or medium asparagus spears   3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar   2 tablespoons chopped shallot    1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint    1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill    2 ounces crumbled goat cheese    salt and pepper to taste         Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10-12 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and let cool. While the nuts are baking, wash the asparagus and cut off the tough, woody ends. Place the asparagus in a skillet, add one cup of water, cover the pan, bring the water to a boil and cook over high heat for 4-6 minutes or until tender, but still crispy. Drain under cold water, wipe dry and place on a serving platter. In a bowl, combine the   olive oil, vinegar,   shallot, mint and dill. Mix well and pour the dressing over the asparagus. Add the nuts and cheese and toss the ingredients to coat the asparagus completely. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.      Makes 4-6 servings      

Mother’s Day plans got me thinking about some of the so-called “liberating” trends for women.

Like canned foods, which were, and did, make it easier for housewives to get dinner on the table. They no longer had to clean and cook veggies, for example. All they had to do was open the can and heat the stuff in a pot. (I knew someone who cooked canned food in the can to save on pot cleaning.)

Unfortunately, although canned vegetables did save work and time, they weren’t very tasty. They were also mushy and salty and lacked the nutritional value of fresh produce.

It doesn’t take much time to clean and cook fresh asparagus. Just a matter of rinsing them and cutting off the woody bottom, then either steaming, poaching, grilling or roasting them for a few minutes.

In fact asparagus is one of the quickest and easiest vegetables to cook. We eat them regularly, sprinkled with a little lemon juice.

When I have more time I use asparagus for salad. Like this one:

 

Asparagus Salad with Toasted Almonds and Goat Cheese 

 

1/4 cup chopped almonds

1 pound slim or medium asparagus spears

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds on a cookie sheet and bake them for 10-12 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and let cool. While the nuts are baking, wash the asparagus and cut off the tough, woody ends. Place the asparagus in a skillet, add one cup of water, cover the pan, bring the water to a boil and cook over high heat for 4-6 minutes or until tender, but still crispy. Drain under cold water, wipe dry and place on a serving platter. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, shallot, mint and dill. Mix well and pour the dressing over the asparagus. Add the nuts and cheese and toss the ingredients to coat the asparagus completely. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  

Makes 4-6 servings

 

Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce

Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce  
     
  When you can go into a supermarket any day, any time of year and find practically everything you need or desire — like peaches in December or apples in June — it’s easy to forget that there’s such a thing as seasonal food.  
    Yes, there are a few foods that still invite yearning, as you wait for them to be ready at a precise time. You can’t force shad to spawn whenever you want them to, so shad lovers like me have to wait to buy the fish around May or June. And I have yet to see a pumpkin for sale in July.  
    But even for the stuff you can buy whenever, there is an actual season where it is available locally. And that seasonal, local food is infinitely better. A tasty break from the transported foods from afar.  
  Locally grown asparagus is just about beginning its season in many parts of the U.S. So if you like asparagus, now is the time to buy and savor it. Local, seasonal asparagus is like no other. The spears are more tender and delicate tasting than the others.      
  Also, it’s Earth Day. If it’s sunny out where you are and you have a grill, celebrate the call for eating local products when you can by grilling a bunch of asparagus.   Or use a grill pan or an oven broiler. No matter.   
  Here’s a recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce. It’s an easy recipe and you can skip the Ponzu Sauce if you like, because plain old grilled asparagus is fine too. You can save leftover Ponzu Sauce in the fridge for a few weeks.  
     
    Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce  
  6 tablespoons Ponzu Sauce  
  2 pounds asparagus  
  2 tablespoons olive oil  
  salt to taste  
     
    Ponzu Sauce     
  1/2 cup orange juice    
  1/4 cup lemon juice  
  1/4 cup lime juice    
  1/2 cup soy sauce    
  1/4 cup rice vinegar    
  1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated    
  1 serrano chile, deseeded and chopped    
  2 scallions, finely chopped    
  1/4 teaspoon ground coriander     
       
  Make the Ponzu Sauce and let it rest for at least one hour. Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan (or oven broiler). Wash and trim the asparagus and dry the stalks on paper towels. Rub the olive oil over the asparagus. Grill the asparagus for 6-8 minutes, or until they are tender, turning them occasionally and brushing with the Ponzu Sauce. Makes 4-6 servings  
     
  To make the Ponzu Sauce: place the orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a bowl. Add the ginger, chili pepper, scallions and coriander. Mix well and let rest for one hour or more before using. Makes about 1-3/4 cups    

  

Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce

 

When you can go into a supermarket any day, any time of year and find practically everything you need or desire — like peaches in December or apples in June — it’s easy to forget that there’s such a thing as seasonal food.

Yes, there are a few foods that still invite yearning, as you wait for them to be ready at a precise time. You can’t force shad to spawn whenever you want them to, so shad lovers like me have to wait to buy the fish around May or June. And I have yet to see a pumpkin for sale in July.

But even for the stuff you can buy whenever, there is an actual season where it is available locally. And that seasonal, local food is infinitely better. A tasty break from the transported foods from afar.

Locally grown asparagus is just about beginning its season in many parts of the U.S. So if you like asparagus, now is the time to buy and savor it. Local, seasonal asparagus is like no other. The spears are more tender and delicate tasting than the others.  

Also, it’s Earth Day. If it’s sunny out where you are and you have a grill, celebrate the call for eating local products when you can by grilling a bunch of asparagus. Or use a grill pan or an oven broiler. No matter.

Here’s a recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce. It’s an easy recipe and you can skip the Ponzu Sauce if you like, because plain old grilled asparagus is fine too. You can save leftover Ponzu Sauce in the fridge for a few weeks.

 

Grilled Asparagus with Ponzu Sauce

6 tablespoons Ponzu Sauce

2 pounds asparagus

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

 

Ponzu Sauce 

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

1 serrano chile, deseeded and chopped

2 scallions, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

 

Make the Ponzu Sauce and let it rest for at least one hour. Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan (or oven broiler). Wash and trim the asparagus and dry the stalks on paper towels. Rub the olive oil over the asparagus. Grill the asparagus for 6-8 minutes, or until they are tender, turning them occasionally and brushing with the Ponzu Sauce. Makes 4-6 servings

 

To make the Ponzu Sauce: place the orange juice, lemon juice, lime juice, soy sauce and rice vinegar in a bowl. Add the ginger, chili pepper, scallions and coriander. Mix well and let rest for one hour or more before using. Makes about 1-3/4 cups

 

White Asparagus

White Asparagus 
 Spring has sprung which means asparagus is in season. 
 Okay, I sense that you’re thinking — “asparagus is always in season!” 
 And of course, it is. From somewhere. But there are two kinds that aren’t. First, the kind you can buy from local farms and farmer’s markets. And two, white asparagus. 
 Elegant-looking, white asparagus. It has a limited season. Like now. 
 I had a friend once, she has since passed away, and was quite a bit older than me (in fact, she was older than my parents). Her name was Ro Dekker and she was one remarkable woman. She and her Dutch-Jewish family escaped the Nazis in 1939 on the last ship that sailed to New York from Holland. 
 There is so much more I could say about her. 
 But I will simply relate this little story and maybe some other time tell you more about her. 
 Ro, who made dinner for us even when she was over 90 years old, told me that when she first came to this country she bought a bunch of green asparagus and purposely chose the spears that had large, white bottoms, which she cut off and cooked, thinking that this part was the edible part, like the white asparagus she had always cooked for her meals back home in Europe. She was upset that so much of the asparagus was green, and had to be discarded. 
 Of course she discovered that the white part was not at all like the white asparagus she was used to. And for the rest of her life she knew to buy all-green asparagus or at least to cut off and throw away that woody, inedible white part of green asparagus. 
 She also learned that for a few precious weeks a year she could get European white asparagus. Elegant, delicate white asparagus. And so she did. 
 Folks, white asparagus is very expensive. It’s a treat. An occasional treat for most of us. So treat it right. 
 Susur Lee, a chef with restaurants in New York, Toronto and Singapore says that white asparagus is his favorite ingredient because it is so gloriously sweet and tender. He says that treating it right means: peel the skin, which can be chewy, and don’t overcook. You can read the article  here . 
 If you’re lucky enough to be able to buy white asparagus, keep the preparation simple. You can eat the spears uncooked, sprinkled with lemon juice or dipped in some flavored mayonnaise or vinaigrette. 
 Or steam or poach them quickly and add a sprinkle of butter or coconut oil. 
 Eat these hot or cold. 

  In memory of my friend Ro Dekker:   
     
  White Asparagus  
 1 pound fresh white asparagus 
 butter or coconut oil 
 lemon juice 
 chopped fresh tarragon, chives, thyme, parsley or dill  Trim about 1/2-inch from the bottom of each asparagus spear. Peel the skin (use a vegetable peeler) starting from about 1-1/2 inches down from the tip all the way to the bottom. Rinse the spears and place them in a saute pan. Cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears, or until the spears are tender. Remove the spears and drain them. Place the spears in a serving dish. Top with a bit of butter or coconut oil. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh tarragon, chives,  thyme, parsley or dill i  f desired. Makes 4 servings  

  

White Asparagus

Spring has sprung which means asparagus is in season.

Okay, I sense that you’re thinking — “asparagus is always in season!”

And of course, it is. From somewhere. But there are two kinds that aren’t. First, the kind you can buy from local farms and farmer’s markets. And two, white asparagus.

Elegant-looking, white asparagus. It has a limited season. Like now.

I had a friend once, she has since passed away, and was quite a bit older than me (in fact, she was older than my parents). Her name was Ro Dekker and she was one remarkable woman. She and her Dutch-Jewish family escaped the Nazis in 1939 on the last ship that sailed to New York from Holland.

There is so much more I could say about her.

But I will simply relate this little story and maybe some other time tell you more about her.

Ro, who made dinner for us even when she was over 90 years old, told me that when she first came to this country she bought a bunch of green asparagus and purposely chose the spears that had large, white bottoms, which she cut off and cooked, thinking that this part was the edible part, like the white asparagus she had always cooked for her meals back home in Europe. She was upset that so much of the asparagus was green, and had to be discarded.

Of course she discovered that the white part was not at all like the white asparagus she was used to. And for the rest of her life she knew to buy all-green asparagus or at least to cut off and throw away that woody, inedible white part of green asparagus.

She also learned that for a few precious weeks a year she could get European white asparagus. Elegant, delicate white asparagus. And so she did.

Folks, white asparagus is very expensive. It’s a treat. An occasional treat for most of us. So treat it right.

Susur Lee, a chef with restaurants in New York, Toronto and Singapore says that white asparagus is his favorite ingredient because it is so gloriously sweet and tender. He says that treating it right means: peel the skin, which can be chewy, and don’t overcook. You can read the article here.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to buy white asparagus, keep the preparation simple. You can eat the spears uncooked, sprinkled with lemon juice or dipped in some flavored mayonnaise or vinaigrette.

Or steam or poach them quickly and add a sprinkle of butter or coconut oil.

Eat these hot or cold.

In memory of my friend Ro Dekker: 

 

White Asparagus

1 pound fresh white asparagus

butter or coconut oil

lemon juice

chopped fresh tarragon, chives, thyme, parsley or dill

Trim about 1/2-inch from the bottom of each asparagus spear. Peel the skin (use a vegetable peeler) starting from about 1-1/2 inches down from the tip all the way to the bottom. Rinse the spears and place them in a saute pan. Cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears, or until the spears are tender. Remove the spears and drain them. Place the spears in a serving dish. Top with a bit of butter or coconut oil. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh tarragon, chives, thyme, parsley or dill if desired. Makes 4 servings

 

Lemony Roasted Asparagus

When in need of a quick, festive side dish, think asparagus. They’re elegant looking and there’s very little you have to do to them. Only the real fat ones need peeling. Wash them off, cut off the fibrous, purplish-white ends and cook them. Either steam, poach or roast them. It takes just minutes, depending on thickness. 
 Here’s one of my favorites, to be served tonight with my pre-fast dinner. 
 Lemony Roasted Asparagus 
 1 pound mediun thick asparagus 
 1 tablespoon olive oil 
 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
 1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel 
 salt and freshly ground black pepper 
 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
 Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Trim the ends from the asparagus, wash and dry them and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and scatter the garlic and lemon peel on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roll the asparagus to coat them on all sides with the other ingredients. Roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness, or until tender. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings

When in need of a quick, festive side dish, think asparagus. They’re elegant looking and there’s very little you have to do to them. Only the real fat ones need peeling. Wash them off, cut off the fibrous, purplish-white ends and cook them. Either steam, poach or roast them. It takes just minutes, depending on thickness.

Here’s one of my favorites, to be served tonight with my pre-fast dinner.

Lemony Roasted Asparagus

1 pound mediun thick asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon peel

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Trim the ends from the asparagus, wash and dry them and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and scatter the garlic and lemon peel on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roll the asparagus to coat them on all sides with the other ingredients. Roast for 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness, or until tender. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings