The first of the spring vegetables have started to arrive here in PA. At work we got the first harvest of asparagus a few days back. It literally was cut the previous day and arrived within 24 hours. I was truly shocked by the freshness and crispness of the product. Our produce rep takes really good care of us and we take care of him. Usually his second delivery is around staff meal and we’ll feed him that or whatever new dish that we are working on. I think that’s an unspoken law in the kitchen, treat us with respect and you’ll never go hungry. We have your back in so many words.
Back to asparagus, you can get these tree like stalks at almost anytime out of the year these days. Where those are coming from, I don’t know. Right now is the peak season for these delicious veggies. So go to your local farmers market and pick some out. Wondering how to tell if they are good? Look for bright green or purple tinged closed tips. If the tips are open or loose they are on their way out. The stalks should be firm and not limp and the bunches should squeak when squeezed. You probably know the sound but haven’t noticed before. Avoid woody stalks. To prepare them for cooking you bend the stalks and let them break naturally. Doing this will allow you to get rid of the more woody bottoms. If you want to use the bottoms you can save them for purees or soups. The idea is that these bottoms need a lot more cooking time to get them tender then the rest of the vegetable.
If they are thin we just season them and cook from there. However the more mature or thicker stalks will take a little more cooking. Here you might want to blanch and refresh, this term refers to put into boiling water for a brief amount of time (about 10 seconds or so) and then immediately into ice water to stop the cooking. What you’re looking for is to soften the stalks slightly to allow for a high heat cooking method like grilling, sauteing or roasting. If you don’t do this blanch and refresh you run the risk of charring the out side while having an under cooked center. You might ask, why not just lower the heat and cook for a longer time? True you can do this and you’re not wrong in doing so. The results of this long cooking time result into a mushy limp asparagus with a lot of the nutrients cooked out. No one wants that. So with a high heat you get a tender yet crisp vegetable. I’m getting too caught up in the sciencey part of things aren’t I? Anyhow we just skip over the thicker asparagus and just grab the thin ones. Saves us a step to be honest.
Lemon Mint AsparagusPrint This
- 2 Bunches Asparagus, bottoms snipped off
- 2 Lemons, Zested and Juiced
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbs Chopped Mint
- Flaky Sea Salt
Mix lemon zest, juice, olive oil, and mint together. Season with salt.
Pour half over the asparagus. Massage until all are coated paying attention to the asparagus tops.
Throw on the grill until the asparagus are bright green and slightly charred and tender. Remove from grill, pout the rest of the lemon mix over. Eat!
If you don't have a grill (or the weather does not agree with it) you can throw the asparagus in a 450 degree over for about 10 minutes.
This is one of our favorite ways to prepare asparagus, with a quick marinade of sorts to impart flavor before and after grilling. No matter the way you choose to cook your asparagus we hope you enjoy it while it’s in season. We are.
As always, Enjoy.