By Beverly Barbour
Asparagus tips for spring
Asparagus comes in three colors, green, white and red. Green is the most common and the red turns green when you cook it, though it is almost a purple color uncooked. White stays a creamy white no matter what you do to it.
The least expensive and the most flavorful is the green asparagus, so don't worry if the red and white varieties aren't poking their heads up in your garden or supermarket. Asparagus recipes are color blind and any variety can be used interchangeably in recipes. You needn't be concerned if some of the more esoteric red or white varieties don't turn up in your kitchen.
One of the most appreciated virtues of asparagus is that you don't have to do any peeling and not much cleaning before popping it into a pan. Just break off the tough bottom of the spear and run it under cold water.
Asparagus, Potatoes, & Salad Greens with Lemon-Buttermilk Dressing
Crisp, still warm potatoes compliment the cool, tangy dressing in this great meal-in-a-salad bowl.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Break off bottoms of asparagus spears. Lightly oil asparagus tops and season with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, but not limp. OR, roast the asparagus in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes, turning at least once. Set aside. Cut the clean potatoes into halves or quarters. Toss in oil to lightly coat; season with salt and pepper. Spread out cut-side down on lightly oiled baking sheet and roast until the side in contact with pan is brown and crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes. Roast until easily pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes more.
Dressing: Combine mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Lightly dress greens with lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Assemble with asparagus and potatoes and drizzle with Dressing. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Serve with a salad and you have a vegetarian meal.
24 large soda crackers
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter casserole. Crush crackers, 8 at a time. Sprinkle crumbs to cover bottom of casserole dish. Add half of the asparagus, then 2 eggs sliced, the half of the soup diluted with milk and liquid. Sprinkle with cracker crumbs and repeat, ending with cracker crumbs. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Chilled Asparagus Soup
Make the soup at least 3 1/2 hours before serving, or up to 1 day ahead.
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pour oil into pan and heat. When hot, add onion and stir often until limp. Add asparagus cut into 2-inch lengths, and 2 1/2 cups broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is very tender, 10 to 14 minutes. Whirl asparagus mixture in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Pour into container and stir in cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Makes 6 servings.
Spanish Egg Tortilla with Asparagus
When the eggs cook to perfection this dish can move directly from stovetop to table. Serve it with potatoes and salad for a true Spanish meal.
5 asparagus spears
Slice asparagus diagonally into 1/4-inch thick pieces. String the peas then slice the pods diagonally into 1/4-inch pieces. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil in an ovenproof frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the asparagus and the peas; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are soft and almost tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining olive oil and pour in the eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low. As eggs cook, edges will begin to firm, using a spatula, lift the edges and tilt the pan slightly, allowing uncooked egg to run underneath the tortilla. Continue cooking until a firm base has developed but the top is still uncooked. Place under broiler until surface is barely firm. Sprinkle parsley or mint over top, cut into wedges and serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 3 to 4 servings.
Poking around asparagus spears is a whole lot of fun!