What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Asparagus Recipes: Spring Food Fest (Asparagus: Shopping, Prepping, Cooking, Serving, Recipes)

We are in the last weeks of April. Spring is upon us. In a matter of days the light green new growth has filled the air pockets and closed us in to the privacy of summer, blocking the view to the neighbor we can only see in winter. The dogwoods, viburnum, wild azaleas and sweet Betsy are in full bloom, the red buds and Ribes odorata are waning. The smell of spring is everywhere. We saw out first 2 hummingbirds several days ago so our feeder is up and ready for the season when we refill them every few days. Our spring garden was planted late, and we just put in the seeds for the main garden; late too, but we’ll still have an abundance of produce to eat fresh and put up. And we are digging a plot for our first asparagus bed, finally.

When ever we get into the planning and planting, we get hungry for the foods that are on our minds, especially the foods of spring and the grocery stores are full of them. We are fortunate to have wonderful markets with fresh produce and we can find them before our garden produces. What comes to mind this time of year is asparagus, peas, new potatoes, onions and strawberries, among others.

Asparagus So in this issue, we are going to provide ideas on what to do with asparagus.

How to shop for and prepare fresh asparagus: Make sure they are firm and the spears are fresh. They get slimy when older. We like the small ones, thin as a pencil. They don’t need peeling, they cook quickly and taste great. If you get the bigger ones, peel the ‘skin’ below the spear with a vegetable peeler. Regardless of size, cut off the bottom few inches or break at the breaking point.

Four ways to cook asparagus:

Roast: Spread out asparagus on a sheet pan covered with parchment (so you only have to throw away the parchment and not clean the pan! Lazy? No! Practical and time saving! If you are doing this for 100, trust us, it saves time and money!). Brush or spray with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 7-10 minutes, turning and testing for doneness. Be careful not to overcook.

Boil: Bring water to boil in large skillet. Put in asparagus and boil 5-7 minutes or until tender. Be careful not to overcook!

Microwave: Put cut & trimmed asparagus into gallon zip-lock. Close all but 1½” of bag. Lay asparagus as flat as possible in zip-lock. Microwave 1 minute and 45 seconds on high. Turn over; microwave 45 seconds. Close bag and immediately douse in ice water bath to stop cooking.

Grill: Like roasting, preheat grill to medium; oil grill. Brush asparagus lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill asparagus, turning frequently, until just done. We would remind you not to overcook but if you haven’t heard it by now, you deserve mushy asparagus.

Recipes or ideas for recipes:

You can take any of the above methods of cooking and serve as is. With the microwave version, it is best to serve cold. Dress any with lemon vinaigrette.

With roasted or grilled asparagus, add garlic, garlic and lemon zest, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, or butter. Serve with aioli, flavored with saffron, lemon or garlic. Top with onion rings, bread crumbsbread crumb, garlic & lemon zest topped asparagus, or grated egg white then grated egg yolk Roasted Asparagus Topped with Egg. You can roast or grill your favorite other veggies (sliced eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, mushrooms or portabella) with the asparagus and serve a platter full or top pasta or stack in a grilled panini sandwich with your favorite cheese. Asparagus sandwiches are gaining in popularity everywhere; some ideas: turkey and asparagus, hot chicken and asparagus, or some kind of bread (pumpernickel or rye), some kind of cheese (jack, cream blue, fontina, or cheddar), some kind of dressing (thousand island, mayo, Italian, or lemon butter) and maybe some kind of topping (grilled onions or pickles)

Serve cooked asparagus with a cheese or hollandaise sauce.

Proscuitto wrapped AsparagusTake ½ strips of prosciutto, wrap raw trimmed asparagus, spread on sheet pan and spray with cooking spray. Broil a few minutes, turning. Serve as an appetizer.

Another asparagus appetizer: Wrap each spear in puff pastry, roast until golden brown. Cut in several pieces and serve on end. If you are in a rush, roll spear in a slice of ham. Cut in two pieces. Pretty!

Make Veal Oscar or Eggs Oscar (Benedict style with crabmeat and asparagus) or Omelet Oscar (with asparagus, crabmeat and hollandaise). We like Cream of Asparagus Soup and asparagus risotto. Serve in a pasta salad making asparagus the star or mix in a variety of complementary veggies: green onion, peas, or whatever strikes your fancy.

You can do stir fries, all veggie, chicken, pork or beef with asparagus, or add other vegetables like shitake mushrooms.

That should get you started. We actually have recipes for all of the above and more. If you are interested, send us a note (info@swankcatering.com) and if we get a few requests for a few recipes, we’ll send them to you directly; if we get a lot of requests, we’ll publish them, either on our blog or on our website (www.swankcatering.com).

Your comments are welcome, in fact, we would love to hear from you.

Take care and until next time,

eat, drink, laugh, and have fun with food and your friends!

Pookah and Di


  • At 9:39 PM, Blogger gazelle said…

    oh, my, gosh. I can't believe all the ideas for asparagus. Fabulous!
    Do you ever eat the spears raw?

  • At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You have a nice blog, thanks I enjoyed it,
    I've got one aboutbaked asparagus
    baked asparagus

  • At 5:50 PM, Anonymous lessons said…

    Hello Pookah & Di
    And G'day from Downunder. I was hunting around the web for stuff on kids recipes when I came across Asparagus Recipes: Spring Food Fest (Asparagus: Shopping, Prepping, Cooking, Serving, Recipes). It's just amazing what these searches turn up. I'm not sure I'm finding what I need, but I'm having a lot of fun. Have a great day!

  • At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Vegetables are great, but the Heart Start Defibrillator is better (At saving your life, that is ;) ).

  • At 11:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Vegetables are great, but the Heart Start Defibrillator is better (At saving your life, that is ;) ).


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