Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fun with Asparagus!

So, I ask you, is Asparagus singular or plural? If singular, would the plural be Asparagi?  I'll have to Google that and see.. In any case, one spear would not be enough to have fun with so we're using a bunch here.

This first concotion was just something we were having to go with a steak one night. I didn't think about posting it until the last minute so it isn't as carefully prepared as it might have been. Hmmm. It shouldn't be that way. I know full well that love in preparation makes a difference in the outcome of any food. And anyone who has been in any long term relationship knows that love requires attention and care. I'll work on that. But anyhoo, I had a bunch of spears and some leftover prosciutto, so I cut the prosciutto into thin-ish strips and wrapped it around the spears. I grouped 2-3 of the Kate Moss spears together - they were too skinny to hold their own against the prosciutto. I placed them on a baking sheet lined with foil and drizzled a little olive oil, sprinkled salt and ground pepper and then a dusting of finely grated cheese. In restaurants I usually see this as Parmagiano (which makes sense because Parma is where the ham comes from) but I was fresh out so I used Gruyere.  I've also seen Manchego used.

Roast that in a 400 oven until the spears are lightly browned and the cheese is melted about 15 minutes -OR- as was the case on this particular evening until the steaks have finished resting, whichever comes first, (when WSH is hungry). Here's how they look and the awkward looking plating of one large serving. I should have included the carved steak pieces.. LOL hindsight.

Two days later I still had a lot of Asparagus left so I decided to make my favorite food: Soup!
Take your bundle of spears, and cut off the hard fibrous ends.  Really the best way to do this is to grasp the spear in the middle and bend the end until it breaks, the Asparagus knows! But.. this was soup and it was all going in the blender anyway.. so I lopped with a knife. Cut the remaining spears into manageable sections, an inch or two, and save some of the prettiest tips for a garnish.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. When boiling, place the pieces in a large strainer and submerge them into the water.

Cook until tender and remove to the ice bath just for a minute to stop the cooking and preserve that beautiful green color.

Keep your water boiling. Place the pieces into a blender with 1/4 to 1/2 c liquid. You can use the cooking water, chicken or vegetable stock, whatever you like. I use chicken stock. Then puree the hell out of it.

Meanwhile, repeat the process (up to the ice bath) with the tips you have saved for garnish.  When pureed, taste and adjust seasoning as need, I used salt and white pepper, Mix to blend.

Serve straight from the blender or reheat if you wish, garnish with asparagus tips and anything else you like. I added a few (OK I got carried away- a LOT) of drops of creme fraiche. I wanted to make a swirly spiral in the soup but alas, I lacked the confidence. I'll try it on the next bowl, promise. This was almost as much fun as finger painting as a kid!

This is a wonderful soup, full of lots of good stuff, no fat (unless you count the creme fraiche har har) and lots of fiber. One word of caution..actually two. If you are one of those rare people like me who is prone to the hell on earth known as Gout.. take care with how much asparagus you eat.. if eaten in large quantities (which I have been known to do) it can bring on an attack.  And the second is: there is nothing wrong with you if you detect a funny odor when you pee after eating this --that link is really a hoot, check it out.  Click the links to become a veritable encyclopedia of all things Asparagus.  And BTW while I was out googling those things I sort of learned from none other than Merriam Webster that "Asparagus" is both singular and plural.. I guess.. it says "Inflected Forms: (plural) Asparagus.

Still hoping for that breast of veal...*hint* *cough*

See you soon.

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