Plain or Fancy, We Love this Vegetable
This is absolutely the best when the asparagus is in season locally, and I’m longing for it now. As soon as the farmsteads open, I start my quest since I no longer have a garden large enough to accommodate a patch of my own.
Fresh from the ground, the flavor is intense; we even eat it raw. However, we often dress up our food for our inn guests and special occasions, and this is one vegetable that stands up to lots of enhancements while remaining the star of the dish.
One of my favorite ways to serve it as a starter is with a simple grilling of the spears, placed on a dish with a little pot of homemade lemon mayonnaise and a little pile of salt. It is pretty to behold, and quite tasty. Add a few shavings of fresh spring radish for color, and peppery pop. If it is too cold outside to fire up the grill, use your panini maker or grill pan! This is always a hit with our guests. If you don’t have time to make mayonnaise, use softened butter with a few herbs blended in, just make it really good butter!
A little adornment
My family loves crispy prosciutto or pancetta sprinkled atop these roasted spears. Shavings of Parmesan also make their way to the plate, while on other days we long for Hollandaise sauce or homemade mayonnaise drizzled just before serving. I also love this with chopped up hard- or soft-boiled egg and a squeeze of orange juice and lots of black pepper.
These are our favorites, but you can also add what your family loves: crushed red pepper flakes, sautéed Jalapeno, butter melted with lemon juice and zest, or butter melted with roasted garlic and a little minced anchovy. Another favorite of mine is a simple squeeze of lemon juice. Top any of these with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.
Here’s one simple presentation:
2 bunches local asparagus
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 lb. prosciutto, chopped
2 anchovy filets, finely minced
Parmigiano Reggiano to shave on top
Coarse sea salt
Lemon for squeezing
Heat your oven to 450 degrees with your roasting pan inside.
Snap off the bottoms of your asparagus and peel any tough ends. I like to leave them whole during the roasting. Coat with the olive oil.
When the oven is hot, remove the pan and add the asparagus. Set your timer for 7 minutes. If your asparagus is really thin, check at 5 minutes. If they are thick, they might need an additional minute or so, but don’t let them go to far. You want them to be gaining some color, but still crisp/tender. Remove immediately to the platter to cool.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add the prosciutto and the anchovies. Using a spatula, keep them moving in the pan until the prosciutto is nicely browned and the anchovies have disappeared.
Sprinkle this over the asparagus and add a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, and a shaving of Parmesan. I love this with a homemade mayonnaise thinned out with a little extra lemon juice and with the addition of the zest as well.
Homemade Mayonnaise thinned with a little extra lemon juice and the lemon zest, above, is delicious on asparagus.