Friday, May 19, 2006

Asparagus Aspirations

Kevin over at Seriously Good (newly added to the sidebar) recently came up with an event he is calling Asparagus Aspirations. Basically calling on the foodie world to indulge in the spring treat- asparagus. Check out his website for recipe upon recipe for asparagus- so many ideas, so little time with asparagus! I remember how asparagus was such a rare treat growing up. If we were lucky, we had it once or twice a year- and in a family of seven we each got just a taste so Dad could enjoy just a little more than a taste. We loved asparagus. The problem was always finding it. I recall driving and Mom and Dad pulling over and one of us (either them or my brothers) scrambling out to pick a few of the stalks that lurked in the ditch. My Uncle Rick was the one who made asparagus picking an event. He was always the victorious one- he would show up at the door with literally gallons and gallons of lovingly picked asparagus, offereing to share a few of his precious green gold. I often wondered just how far he drove in a given day to pick that much asparagus.

Now with local asparagus purveyors, you can purchase fresh aspargus just about everywhere. Gorcery stores have it not so local- but it is available. It may not be the free stalks gleaned from the ditches, but it is still asparagus. Yet... there are different qualities of asparagus. When you just can't wait anymore for spring, the grocery store asparagus is more than acceptable. A brief glimmer of the flavors to come, you've forgotten how wonderful home grown asparagus can be. And then you find your first bunch of purple-tinged asparagus, and the game is over. The plastic asparagus can no longer hold a candle. But what to do with such treasure?

Our absolute favorite way to eat asparagus is lightly grilled with simple olive oil, salt, and pepper. With a threat of rain, oven roasting occasonially will suffice, but we love it lightly grilled. But there are other applications for this wonderful vegetable, and on a windy day, nothing beats a light spring soup. Specifically, Cream of Asparagus Soup. Light, refreshing, and full of asparagus flavor. All it needs is some parmesan toasts to accompany, and you have a satisfying lunch. The recipe looks too simple to be true, but it is good. I made two minor changes for my taste, however. I added a healthy pinch of red pepper flake with the pepper, and I added a pinch of lemon zest to my bowl. It was perfect. I also skipped the step with the blender and used my immersion blender- much safer and easier.

No comments: