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Asparagus

 

Last updated 3/22/2007 at Noon



Elegant asparagus standing tall in the produce section has an almost instant effect on me… I want to buy it, dash home and cook it and eat it. I don’t believe I’ve met an asparagus I didn’t love.

And, it’s so easy!

A relatively recent “Ah-hah” in the culinary world is this: PEEL THE ASPARAGUS!

It’s not difficult and the result is fantastic.

To peel asparagus, hold at the asparagus tip and peel toward the stalk end. Take three, maybe four, good swipes and that’s it. Gather the peelings near the end of the stalk with your right hand, bring your left hand close to your right and bend the stalk. Where it breaks is where the asparagus is tender.

DON’T toss the peelings or stalk ends. Save them to make creamy, delicious, nutritious soup. If you don’t have time right that moment, put them in a bag and freeze. Make the stock later.

Asparagus combines well with many other vegetables, is handsome on a plate, makes a great salad… enjoy it often as it comes into season with one… or all of these recipes. And I will do the same!

This version of asparagus can easily be prepped in advance and reheated just before serving. Slivered red pepper adds a bright flavor note.

Asparagus Sauté

2 lb. asparagus, peeled

Boiling water

Ice cubes

2 tbsp. butter

¼ cup minced parsley

¼ cup slivers of red pepper

Peel asparagus and, holding fingers close together near the stem end, break off tough parts. (Save asparagus peel and tough stalks for Asparagus Stock for soup.)

Trim asparagus tips to about 2 inches and set aside. Cut remaining stalks into 2-inch lengths.

Bring 2 qt. water to a rolling boil. Drop asparagus tips into boiling water and boil l minute. Add cut-up stalk pieces and boil 2 minutes. Quickly drain asparagus. Turn hot drained asparagus into bowl of ice cubes and add water. Chill quickly, but only until stalks have lost any sign of heat. Drain well again. If not used immediately, crumple paper toweling and put into the bottom of a 2-qt plastic bag with zipper. Add cold, drained asparagus and refrigerate. Will keep in refrigerator about 2 days.

Just before serving, take asparagus from refrigerator. Melt butter in a large skillet. When butter is sizzling, add asparagus, shaking pan like popped corn. Cook just until heated through. Add minced parsley and garnish with slivers of red pepper. 6 servings.

Wow your guests with this dazzling duet… the colors are fantastic!

Sauté of Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

1 lb. asparagus, peeled

1 tbsp. cooking oil

1 pt cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil

Peel asparagus. Break off tough stem ends (save peelings and tough stalks for Asparagus Stock for soup).

Cut tips from asparagus (about 1 ½ inches). Cut stalks into l ½-inch pieces.

Heat oil in large skillet until hot but not smoking. Add asparagus tips and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add stalks and cook 2 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring gently, just until tomatoes are heated through. Add butter and basil and toss gently to distribute well. Serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

In Poland this is the traditional manner of serving asparagus for an elegant meal.

Asparagus à la Polonaise

(à la Poland)

2 lb. fresh asparagus, peeled

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup soft breadcrumbs

2 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped

1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Peel asparagus and break off tough stem ends. (Save peelings and stalks for Asparagus Stock for soup.)

Coat asparagus in boiling water until tender. Drain well.

Meantime, melt butter until foamy. Stir in breadcrumbs and cook over low heat until golden brown. Remove from heat. Stir in finely chopped egg and parsley. Serve over hot cooked asparagus.

Asparagus teams well with seafood and cheese in this simple casserole.

Asparagus Bake Dish

1 lb. asparagus, peeled and cooked

1 (8-oz.) pkg. egg noodles

1 small can tuna

1 small can shrimp

1 small can mushrooms and liquid

2 cans cream of mushroom soup (undiluted)

2/3 cup canned cheese rarebit sauce (or 2/3 cup cheese sauce)

1 cup mayonnaise

Pimiento

Buttered breadcrumbs

Place asparagus in bottom of buttered baking dish. Cook noodles according to package directions.

In a bowl, mix all other ingredients (except buttered breadcrumbs) and add noodles. Pour on top of asparagus and garnish with buttered breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350-degree for 35-40 minutes. Serves 6-8.

Glazed carrots and asparagus make a colorful combination. Fresh grated ginger adds a special flavor note.

Carrots and Asparagus Supreme

3 cups sliced carrots

1 lb. asparagus, peeled

½ cup sherry

1 tbsp. butter

¾ tsp. salt

½ tsp. grated ginger

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. water

¼ cup fresh minced parsley

Combine carrots, sherry, butter and salt in a 2 ½ qt. skillet or sauté pan with cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook, covered, about 10 minutes. Add asparagus and cook 4 minutes. Blend cornstarch and water. Add to carrots and asparagus and cook, stirring, until cooking liquid thickens and is clear. Add parsley and toss lightly. Serves 6.

Barbara Kafka’s ASPARAGUS STOCK

Woody stems and peelings from 2-3 lb of asparagus

4 small leeks, green parts only to make about 4 cups

2 ½ cups water

Combine woody steams and peelings from asparagus with green parts of leek cut into 2-inch pieces, water in a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 ½ hrs.

Strain through a sieve, pushing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Use right away, refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze. Makes 4 ½ to 5 cups.

Easy Asparagus soup

½ lb. asparagus

4 cups Asparagus Stock

2 tbsp. finely minced onion

1 cup cream

Salt, fresh pepper

Peel asparagus and break off tough stalk ends (reserve peelings and stalks for future Asparagus Stock).

Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths, separating tips. Bring Asparagus Stock and onion to a boil. Add stalks of asparagus and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove and puree in blender or food mill using some of cooking stock as needed. Cook asparagus tips just until tender and set aside.

Combine asparagus puree, cream and salt and pepper. Reheat and adjust seasonings. Just before serving, add chopped cooked asparagus tips. Serves 4-6.

 

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