Nothing says spring quite like a thick, textured asparagus spear. In France, April belongs to asparagus – white asparagus. Did you know that farmers and home gardeners cut their asparagus at the crack of dawn each morning before the asparagus tips get a chance to emerge from the soil and take on any hue?
We tend to eat our asparagus green here. If you’ve never roasted green asparagus – you’re in for a treat. Roasting asparagus draws out the stalk’s nutty flavor, sweetens its scent and deepens its green color.
This recipe, adapted from Elizabeth Schneider’s “Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini” (my vegetable bible) couldn’t be easier and is the perfect way to showcase those gorgeous stalks Newgate and Madura Farms have been bringing to market. Plus, it calls for some crunchy Fleur de Sel salt which Spice Revolution (back again this week) carries.
1 pound medium green asparagus
(16 to 20 spears)
1 tbs olive oil
Fleur de sel or crisp sea salt
lemon and orange wedges
Preheat the oven to 500 F.
Bend base of each asparagus spear to snap off the fibrous section.
Lightly peel stalks.
Choose a roasting pan that holds asparagus closely – they need to be snug in the pan.
Drizzle olive oil over them, then shake pan briskly to coat all stalks in oil.
Roast in center oven for 5 minutes.
Shake pan vigorously to shake stalks.
Roast about five minutes more, until tender.
Serve at once with salt and citrus.
For some Asian flair, substitute a touch of oyster, fish or soy sauce for the salt. Serves 2.
French chef Roger Verge likes to pierce a bamboo skewer through five spear tips at a time; he drizzles them with a nice finishing olive oil (Kontoulis Olive Oil will be here next week!) sprinkles them with salt and broils or grills them for about three minutes. Meanwhile, he warms up some olive oil in a skillet with some savory herb sprigs (Honey Locust Farmhouse and Madura have been bringing gorgeous herbs lately). When asparagus is cooked, dip both sides in the aromatic oil. Here’s a tip: don’t throw away the stalk remnants….save them for soup!
Of course, sautéed asparagus tips will add spring sunshine to any pasta dish – especially one bathed in grass-green Buddhapesto sauce.
The knife sharpener is BACK this week.
So is Gaia’s Breath with their crazy delicious and healthy sausages and lean cuts of veal.
Stone Barns has ground lamb, and pork chops for grilling.
See you at the market!
Pascale Le Draoulec
food writer/ author/ farmers market director