Asparagus is definitely my favorite vegetable so I get really excited this time of year. It's asparagus season. Yay!
I loved reading the chapter devoted to asparagus in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It made me all the more excited for asparagus season this year. I've been getting some from California the last two weeks at the grocery store and I can't wait to get my hands on some local asparagus at the farmers market.
Selection: Look for spears with tight buds and smooth skin. Asparagus should not be withered, brown or limp. Smaller spears are especially tender.
Storage and handling: Store asparagus upright with water at its base for 2-3 days in the coolest part of the refrigerator. Rinse well before using, especially around the scales.
Preparation: Snap the stems where they naturally break to remove the woody bottom portion.
When asparagus is in season and tasting great, you really don't need to do much to it. Toss with a little olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and throw it in the oven or on the grill and it always turns out great. It is also great with a lemon sauce or dressing, balsamic vinegar or hollandaise sauce drizzled over the top.
Here are two of my favorite asparagus recipes that I learned from my uncle and mother-in-law, respectively. Both are fabulous.
Asparagus with Soy Sauce & Butter
1 bunch asparagus
2 T butter
1/2 cup soy sauce
Toasted sesame seeds
Blanche asparagus in a pot of salted boiling water for one minute. Drain and place asparagus in a large ice bath to cool down. The blanching can be done ahead of time if necessary. Heat butter and soy sauce in a medium saute pan. Add asparagus and cook for a few minutes tossing to coat each spear with the sauce. Be careful not to overcook asparagus. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
1 c mayonnaise
4 t soy sauce
2 t wasabi (from tube)
1½ t sugar
2 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 bunch asparagus
Boil water and cook asparagus for 2 minutes. Let cool. Mix other ingredients together to make dip. Serve asparagus cold or room temp with sauce.