Monday Meals: Asparagus Glut

Without doubt, spring is here.  Violets are in bloom all over the lawns, and half a bushel of asparagus is hauled in every couple of days.  Any ideas what to do with it?

I hear there are steamers and vertical cylinders and so on.  Right now my go-to method involves a big flat pan with a tight lid. Line the spears up in there; cover barely, just barely, halfway with water; apply the lid; bring to a simmer.  A dramatic color change will impress you:  as soon as they heat up they turn very bright green. So stand right there and be ready to shut it all down and yank them out after about two minutes – before that bright green color begins to dull.

A particular flavor of early-season asparagus makes the trouble worthwhile.  It tastes like fresh, raw, green peas.  As long as it is not overcooked, that flavor will make it to the table, along with a tiny little bit of crunchiness, too.

Butter, salt, and pepper are the classic handling, I suppose, of a pile of asparagus on a dinner plate. Lately I have been favoring flavored vinegar as sole treatment.

In full summer, when volume of the herbs becomes impressive, put oregano in a bottle of elderberry vinegar, as above left.  Or take up a mass of lovely, delicate green dill leaves and put them in white vinegar, as above right.

Yep, that greenery turns the vinegar golden yellow, or as such yellow is called, “histologist’s green.”

Asparagus-and-vinegar can be topped off with shaved Parmesan.  Apply it quickly while the vegetable is still hot, so the Parmesan will melt.

Bon appétit!
 And may we know some other other asparagus methods favored by Ratbourgeois?

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15 thoughts on “Monday Meals: Asparagus Glut”

  1. I prepare asparagus as follows.  If store-bought (as opposed to freshly cut from the garden), cut off and discard (compost) the dried-out gnarly 1 cm at the cut end.  Then stack in the basket of a steam cooker (mine is around fifteen years old and no longer manufactured, but it looks kind of like this).  But don’t arrange it the way they show in the picture: if you stack it up like cordwood like that the steam won’t penetrate to the centre and the inner stalks won’t be cooked evenly with the ones on the outside.  Instead, make alternating rows stacked orthogonally to one another with space between stalks equal to their width; that will allow steam to flow everywhere.  Depending on the length of your asparagus stalks and the steamer basket, you may have to cut them to make them fit.  Go ahead—it won’t affect the taste.

    Steam until the asparagus reaches your personal optimum along the continuum of crunchy to mushy.  I find 10 to 15 minutes usually works for the thicker stalks I buy; for thin stalks from the garden, 5 to 10 minutes will usually get ’er done.

    While the asparagus is cooking, use the microwave to warm some store-bought Hollandaise sauce.  (Not in the original package—it will go splodey if you do.)

    Serve asparagus with Hollandaise sauce to be added at the table, with paper-thin sliced Parma ham on the top.

    For the pure asparagus experience, steam as above and serve with butter, salt, and pepper, or balsamic vinegar.

    Sorry, I have no recommendations on how to avoid the “after asparagus” phenomenon a few hours later.

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  2. My method of preparing one of my favorite veggies is to snip off the stalks, put all the tips in a steamer and put olive oil and seasoning in the water below. Lo-cal and olive oil makes everything taste better!

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  3. John Walker:
    Then stack in the basket of a steam cooker (mine is around fifteen years old and no longer manufactured, but it looks kind of like this).  But don’t arrange it the way they show in the picture: if you stack it up like cordwood like that the steam won’t penetrate to the centre and the inner stalks won’t be cooked evenly with the ones on the outside.  Instead, make alternating rows stacked orthogonally to one another with space between stalks equal to their width; that will allow steam to flow everywhere.

    Thanks! This sounds like a modification of the Lincoln Log design for bonfires at Scout Jamborees and family reunions.  It brings back memories, and I bet it works great here too.

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  4. 10 Cents:
    This is how you make Asparagus Ohitashi.

    This is attractive, and all new to me.  I see it involves Katsuobushi, the bonito flakes.  It’s interesting that fish or ham are so widely recognized as complementary to the vegetable.

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  5. EThompson:
    My method of preparing one of my favorite veggies is to snip off the stalks, put all the tips in a steamer and put olive oil and seasoning in the water below. Lo-cal and olive oil makes everything taste better!

    Sounds great.  Also this would leave room for dry champagne in the daily caloric budget.

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  6. If I am not mistaken Germany does an asparagus festival this time of year. It is supposed to be really fun. My wife and I missed it when we went on our honeymoon.

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  7. John Walker:

    10 Cents:
    How about UK way of cooking them?

    You mean, boil for 45 minutes and then mash with a fork on the plate?

    Yes the biggest reason the Brits were so imperial was because they were looking for good food. British cuisine is terrible.

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  8. Robert A. McReynolds:

    John Walker:

    10 Cents:
    How about UK way of cooking them?

    You mean, boil for 45 minutes and then mash with a fork on the plate?

    Yes the biggest reason the Brits were so imperial was because they were looking for good food. British cuisine is terrible.

    True but have managed to circumvent that with Indian and Chinese. My favorite : Mr. Chow in London.

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  9. Robert A. McReynolds:
    If I am not mistaken Germany does an asparagus festival this time of year. It is supposed to be really fun.

    I bet it is fun!  Yesterday a friend passed through for an overnight stay.  We had him picking asparagus.  He told a tale of an asparagus festival in Vermont, featuring a local band playing It is the Dawning of the Age of Asparagus.  What could go wrong?

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