Monday, June 14, 2010
A particular guilt is sweeping over me: I may have waited too long to post a recipe. Asparagus is a short, glorious season. If the season is already over in your area, put this recipe in your pocket for next year. It is simple and truly beautiful on the plate.
This year an Amish farmer at the market had asparagus with slender purple tips and a sweet, nutty flavor. He told us his plants were happiest, tasted best, when left rather wild in their fields with no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. A half wild, half cultivated crop.
Watching Coral eat asparagus, clutching it by its verdant green stem, olive oil dripping down her fingers to her wrist. I think of the farmer and the asparagus before us and decide that we too are at our best when we are a little wild, and a little cultivated. So the olive oil drips, Coral rubs it into her skin, and grabs for another stalk.
Best with asparagus that is very, very fresh. Preferably local and picked that day or the day before.
Break or cut off the wooden ends. For thicker asparagus, peel the stalks. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add a couple glugs of olive oil. Toss in the asparagus and shake pan to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shake pan again, reduce heat to low, and cover. Occasionally shake the pan. Cook until just barely tender. Arrange on a platter and serve as is, or drizzle with a mix of lemon juice and finely minced shallots. It is good warm, at room temperature or lightly chilled.