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Asparagus Time

We've been enjoying first-of-spring Salinas Valley asparagus for a couple weeks now. On Monday my parents' neighbor brought us a big bag cut that morning from their ranch. So sweet and dewy, refreshed by Sunday's rainfall.

Image of Jensen's asparagus:

I made an asparagus salad from a recipe my cousin Lauren gave me. She got it from Cecilia Chiang, the founder of The Mandarin in San Francisco. We only make it with the best spring asparagus, but if you find yourself with older spears later in the year (i.e., after Memorial Day), then be sure to trim the stalks liberally and peel them.

Lauren's asparagus salad:

Put a quart of water on to boil and a colander in the sink. Then prep the dressing:

2 T light superior soy sauce
2 T sesame oil (I like Kadoya
)1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 t sugar (double if your asparagus is not as fresh)

Mix the above until the sugar dissolves.

Cut one pound of trimmed asparagus along the diagonal into 1/2" slices at a sharp angle. Dump the asparagus in the boiling water and count 60 seconds. I stand over the pot watching the clock to not mistime this critical step. If your asparagus is older or if you prefer it softer, you might need to cook it 30 seconds longer. Drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Toss in a bowl with the dressing and serve at room temperature.

What are your favorite asparagus recipes? Here's a link to one I posted long ago.

Asparagus galette recipe:

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  1. Roasted asparagus....

    also like it chopped in a scramble /omelet with mushrooms

    1. There was an asparagus recipe on Chowhound awhile ago with Miso Butter and poached eggs. It was from David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar and this dish is served in the restaurant. It was very good!

      1 Reply
      1. Asparagus wrapped with a smidge of mozzarella and prosciutto.
        Roasted asparagus.

        1 Reply
        1. re: QueenB

          I do a similar Asparagus roll: Blanched asparagus, boursin cheese, and prosciutto. When ever I have parties my guests always ask if I will be making them! Big hit, little effort!

        2. Roasted a big bunch in olive oil, then sprinkled with lemon juice and sea salt before serving.

          Any leftovers? Make a soup.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chicgail

            Leftovers? There would never be any leftovers in my house. Can't wait for local asparagus (Maryland).

          2. Jaques Pepin, on Fast Food My Way (and in the book) does a sauteed asparagus dish with chorizo, croutons and (I think) almonds (its possible I invented the almonds part and added it myself, but its very tasty). No blanching required for good, seasonal asparagus, just peel the ends if they're thick. Starts with the chorizo to render some of the fat, then the asparagus and then the croutons and almonds, lots of pepper and viola.

            I also love to make an asparagus flan/custard for a change of pace.

            1. Asparagus boiled 4 mins, then squeeze lemon, drizzle olive oil, salt, and grate hardboiled eggs over the top of it all. Delish!

              1. Our local farmers mkt, Marin County, Northern California, has had asparagus from the Delta the past couple of weeks and also green garlic. What a great combination. I like to peel the asparagus (love the thicker stalks, do not see the lure of the pencil-thin ones), I nuke 'em for a minute or minute and a half, no more. Meanwhile, in evoo/butter, saute the chopped green garlic a short time just until soft (it can burn in a hurry if unwatched) then roll the asparagus around in that, squeeze on some lemon juice and enjoy spring.

                1. My recipe for asparagus is similiar to alfairfax.

                  Sea Salt
                  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
                  Crushed Garlic
                  Lemon Juice

                  Grill, roast or sautee.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: calla0413

                    I do mine the exact same way except that I include lemon zest as well as juice and only roast it for 10-15 minutes on very high heat for a little caramelization. Yum!

                  2. Roasted. Salt. Hazelnut is way better that olive oil on this particular vegetable.

                    If local and fresh (in MAssachusetts, that means May -- we once were the asparagus capital of the US, believe it or not), thicker early harvest spears preferred to thinner later harvest spears.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Karl S

                      Yes, there is a great affinity with hazelnuts. Some toasted and chopped hazelnuts sprinkled over is a nice finishing touch.

                    2. Here is a good recipe for an appetizer. Sometimes I roll a slice of proscuitto around the asparagus before I roll it into the phyllo

                      Phyllo Wrapped Asparagus

                      8 or 9 asparagus spears, depending on size
                      1/2 (16-ounce) package frozen phyllo dough sheets, thawed
                      1/4 cup butter, melted
                      1/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano

                      Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

                      Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Unwrap the phyllo and cut the stack in half lengthwise. Reserve 1 stack for later use. Cover the phyllo with a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Take 1 sheet of phyllo and brush lightly with some melted butter. Sprinkle with some grana padano. Place 2 to 3 asparagus spears on the short end of the sheet. Roll up, jelly-roll style. Place each piece, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Brush with more melted butter and sprinkle with more grana padano. Repeat until all the asparagus spears are used up. Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Lobstah

                        I do something similar using puff pastry, asparagus, proscuitto and swiss cheese. (or any cheese you like.

                        Using about four asparagus per serving. Served with a marinara sauce.

                        1. re: Lobstah

                          I do this using fresh feta cheese (inside the phyllo package) from Cowgirl Creamery. Delicious.

                        2. Risotto con Asparagi.

                          1. Throw in large pot of rapidly boiling salted water. I give it exactly 2 minutes which is just about how long it takes for the water to return to boil, then take it out. Eat immediately or submerge in cool water if eating it later. Then it still has just enough crunch. Any longer cooking and it's too soft for my taste.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tarabell

                              Steve Jensen left another big bag of his asparagus on the doorstep tonight. I already had dinner on the table, but we had to have some just-picked asparagus too. I boiled them for exactly 2 minutes and gave 'em a sprinkling of sea salt at the table. No need to mess with perfection.

                              Now I've got more raw material to experiment with all these suggestions!

                              1. re: tarabell

                                This is all they need when they're good.

                                I served them to my 2 year old last night for dinner at room temperature. I got such pleasure in seeing her pick up each stalk and chow down! Now if only I could get my husband to try it!

                              2. You all have me salivating. The best thing about my 12 year stint in the Central Valley was access to the incredible asparagus from the Stockton Delta area (the onions were also a marvel).

                                Have any of you had white asparagus (German kind). I have friends in Frankfurt that swear they are the best

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: drmimi

                                  I've been fortunate to be in Germany a few times during spargelzeit (asparagus time) and indulged nearly every meal. I've had French and Spanish white asparagus, but I agree with the Germans that theirs is the best.

                                  1. re: drmimi

                                    That's a specialty of the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts. Most of it gets exported to Europe for lack of a fully developed market in the US. White asparagus takes more work (it *must* be peeled, as it is much tougher than green asparagus).

                                    1. re: drmimi

                                      Mmmm: white asparagus topped with chopped hard boiled egg (white and yolks separate), tiny ham cubes and a gravy boat of melted butter - a Spring treat growing up in Europe.

                                    2. love the asian asparagus salad! I do a similar one from a Barbara Tropp cookbook.

                                      An unusual asparagus dish that I love is called candied asparagus. I got it from an issue of saveur a few years ago, but of course it's not on their website (why is their website so aggravating. it would be nice if they would post all back recipes!) then i looked through my old issues for it but couldn't find it.

                                      anyway, you basically saute pieces of asparagus in oil (i use olive but the recipe says canola) for like half an hour until they are wrinkled, brownish, and caramelized. They come out sweeter and v. different from roasted asparagus.

                                      1. yesterday I had a thai dish that was asparagus and mushrooms and shrimp with this great spicy brown sauce. I wish I had that recipe.

                                        1. Brushed with olive oil and grilled (this works better with the thicker stalks), then seasoned either with a sprinkle of Meyer lemon juice or a little freshly grated nutmeg.

                                          1. I take proscuitto and "butter" it with pesto sauce then wrap it around the asparagus (after steaming for 3 minutes). I group them in 3's or 4's, grate some fresh Parmagiano on top and put them under the broiler until the cheese browns...they taste like candy.

                                            1. roasted with truffle oil and shaved cheese (parmesan, drunken goat, and ricotta salata are all good).

                                              I had a great asparagus appetizer at da flora recently, roasted asparagus with truffles and quail egg salad. We had to order a second serving it was so good.

                                              1. Quiche: Use feta and grated Swiss cheese 50-50; saute the asparagus very lightly in butter, use 2 or 3 eggs per cup of milk. The cheese tastes salty, the asparagus tastes sweet, the combination is great.