We drove down to Bloomington today — the kids are on spring break, and since I’d like to be the “fun mom” at least one or two days out of the 14 they’ll be home, we went with friends to the Wonderlab — a small but all-around awesome science museum in the town that’s home to Indiana University. It’s a heavy hour drive south on a state highway — and on the way down, we were driving through some small nameless (to me) town, and passed what appeared to be a chain restaurant with a giant sign hanging on the outside, advertising the “Asparagus Festival.” Which is funny, since asparagus is totally not in season here right now. They’re off by a quarter year.
I can only assume this chain restaurant must be headquartered somewhere in California. Where asparagus is coming into season, which means we can buy it at our grocery store for about $3 a pound.
Asparagus is so elegant. It has the magical ability to dress up most anything it shares a plate with — from eggs to a simple green salad. When asparagus is added to a thing, it becomes instantly presentable. Which is why, once I start seeing it in my grocery, shipped from California, I buy it, instead of waiting for the 2-week window in July when we can buy it locally-grown at our farmer’s market.
Wild. And. Crazy. I am.
A pivotal moment in life came when I read somewhere (was it Julia Child? Chris Kimball? can’t be sure) that instead of breaking off the tough ends of your asparagus spears, which sometimes leaves you discarding half the stalk — you can just cut off the bottom inch or so, and peel the lower half to increase your asparagus real estate.
I almost doubled my asparagus intake in that one tip. It was beautiful.
My very favorite way to cook asparagus is roasting it. This method does come from Chris Kimball — in his Cook’s Bible. But the method is so simple I’ve memorized it, it’s really not a recipe at all. I love that this can be done in my toaster oven, and it takes just ten minutes. Roasting deepens flavors in a way that steaming or boiling does not, and gives that completely delightful crunch on the ends, if you let it go long enough.
Leftovers? I’ve eaten them cold out of the refrigerator, standing there with the door open. If you are more civilized, you can chop them and add them to a salad, or reheat them in a hot skillet before you whip up a lunchtime omelet.
Or claim an Asparagus Festival, right in your kitchen, and do whatever that dictates.
Recipe: Roasted Asparagus
: closely inspired by a method found in The Cook’s Bible, by Christopher Kimball
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°, and have a baking sheet ready.
- Wash asparagus spears, and cut off the bottom inch or so, just the very toughest ends. Using a vegetable peeler, peel any remaining tough skin off the lower half of the spears. (They cook more evenly if they are a somewhat consistent thickness all the way down.)
- Toss spears with olive oil, and spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, or until spears are tender, and just beginning to brown on top ends.
- Season with salt, and serve immediately.
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.