Amazing Asparagus

All around us, green things are poking up through the ground this time of year, especially asparagus!

One of the best things about spring is this tasty green wonder! A lot of people have the perception that skinny, pencil-thin asparagus is preferable, but the fat, finger-sized ones are much more flavorful.

Peeling asparagus used to be a popular prep step but you can skip the hassle altogether. Just snap the ends off at their natural break point and you’re good to go.

Here’s a quick tip: save those snapped off ends. They’re great to use for a cream of asparagus soup or for making veggie stock!

Asparagus
My Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Aioli
(Photo from Dishing with Kathy Casey)

This short-season superstar is totally versatile, whether stirred into a sauce, steamed, pickled, or grilled. My Overnight Pickled Asparagus is super, simple to make with the right pickling ingredients and in no time, you’ll have the perfect anytime snack to munch on. (Or as a garnish for your Bloody Mary!)

Grilling adds a nice smoky character to the “grass” whether it’s straight off the grill, warm, or even chilled and it pairs great with a Hazelnut Aioli. Or give it a quick steam and drizzle with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette and sprinkle with fresh grated parm – yum!

So get your spring on with some fresh asparagus! –Kathy

Overnight Pickled Asparagus
Makes 1 large jar or about 20 pieces.

1 bunch (19-20 oz wt untrimmed) fresh fat asparagus

Pickling Brine

1 1/2 cups distilled vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 garlic cloves, sliced in half
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Wash asparagus and then with a paring knife trim the bottom 3” (the woody tough part) off and discard.

Place asparagus in a canning jar standing up or in glass bread pan, or other non-corrosive container the asparagus will fit tightly in. Set jar or container on a dish towel in a draft-free place in the kitchen.

Place the pickling brine ingredients in a non-aluminum sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a hard rolling boil and then immediately ladle pickling brine over asparagus, being sure to cover the vegetables, poking down the asparagus if needed. cover with a lid or plastic wrap.

Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Let pickle for at least overnight refrigerated before eating. Pickled asparagus will last refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Recipe by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Aioli
Makes 4 to 6 servings

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) fat asparagus
Olive oil for brushing asparagus
Salt
Hazelnut Aioli (recipe follows)

Wash the asparagus and trim off and discard the bottom 3 inches. Meanwhile, prepare a very hot grill.

Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil. Grill for about 1 minute on each side, until the spears have nice grill marks and are just barely tender. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Serve hot, warm, or even cold. Drizzle with Hazelnut Aioli or put the aioli in individual dishes for dipping.

Hazelnut Aioli
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup hazelnut oil
1 tablespoon water

In a food processor, place the hazelnuts, sugar, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, egg yolks, and salt. Process until smooth. In a measuring cup, mix together the olive and hazelnut oils. With the food processor running, SLOWLY drizzle in the oils; the drizzle should be about the width of a spaghetti strand. The mixture will slowly begin to emulsify, forming a mayonnaise-like consistency. (Don’t add the oil too fast, or the mixture will break!) When all the oil has been added, pulse in the water. Store, refrigerated, until ready to use. The aioli can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Recipe from Dishing with Kathy Casey

Warm Asparagus with Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 4 – 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons shredded or shaved, high-quality parmesan cheese

Wash asparagus and drain well. Snap off tough bottom ends and use in soup or compost.

Steam asparagus until just tender. Or if you have the grill on toss it on for quick cooking.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the orange zest and juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and Dijon mustard. Toss in the warm asparagus, coating well in half he dressing, and season to taste with the salt and red pepper flakes.

Place asparagus on a platter and pour over the remaining dressing. Sprinkle asparagus with the parmesan. Serve immediately.

Recipe developed by Kathy Casey Food Studios®

Posted by Kathy Casey on April 24th, 2014  |  Add Comment |  Posted in KOMO Radio, Recent Posts, Recipes

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