Tag Archives: asparagus

Linguine with Morels, Asparagus and Peas

Morels, asparagus and peas team up in this quintessential springtime pasta dish. Earthy mushrooms marry well with astringent asparagus and sweet peas. Famously delicious in sauces, risottos and pasta, these ingredients require little else except a nap of cream and a sprinkling of cheese to bind them all together, resulting in an easy yet elegant seasonal meal.

Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans
Serves 4

1/2 ounce dried morel mushrooms or 1/4 pound fresh morels, cleaned, sliced
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1″ pieces
Salt
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy heavy cream
1/2 cup shelled sweet peas
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare morels:
If using dried morels, place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze out any extra liquid.  Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add asparagus and blanch until crisp-tender and bright green without overcooking, 1 minute.  Remove with slotted spoon and refresh under cold water.  Set aside.
Add linguine to same pot and cook until al dente or firm to the bite according to package instructions; drain.
Heat olive oil and melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic, morels and 1 teaspoon salt.  Sauté until garlic is fragrant and morels are tender, about 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and cream.  Simmer until thickened and reduced by about half, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in peas and simmer until brightened and crisp tender, 1 minute. Stir in  the asparagus.  Add pasta to the skillet and toss to combine.  Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with a generous spoonful of grated cheese for garnish.

Asparagus Soup

Nothing says spring to me more than the arrival of asparagus in the markets. Their green stalks fill the shelves, upright and dignified, like silent soldiers adorned with purple-tinged crowns. I can’t help myself: I grab one bunch, then another, heaping them in my basket, while eyeing others for even firmer, taller, more deeply colored specimens. If I see them, I’ll take them.

Once home, they need to be put to use – steamed with lemon and olive oil, oven-roasted for a little char, shaved raw into salads, and, of course, in soup. This recipe is simple and relatively minimal, as an asparagus soup should be. Too many flavors will overpower their subtle grassy flavor. A little cream is added to the soup for body and richness, and a sprinkling of Pecorino cheese for garnish adds that extra umami quality, begging for seconds.

Asparagus Soup

Serves 4-6

1 pound asparagus spears
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Trim and discard the woody ends of the asparagus. Cut and reserve 4-6 asparagus tips, 2 inches in length. Slice remaining spears in 1/4 inch pieces.
Melt butter with the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté onion until translucent without browning, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus pieces and sauté until brightened in color and beginning to soften, 2 minutes. Add stock; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until asparagus are very tender, about 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, blanch the reserved asparagus tips in salted boiling water until bright in color, 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water; set aside.
Purée soup with an immersion blender or carefully in batches in a food processor. Return to soup pot. Add cream and black pepper and heat through to serving temperature. Taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls or glasses, sprinkled with pecorino cheese. Garnish with asparagus spears.

Asparagus and Prosciutto Pizza

Asparagus Prosciutto Pizza 1

Simplicity rules with this delicious pizza. Asparagus, prosciutto and cheese are all that’s needed to create a salty, crispy, savory pizza. Cook the pizza on a hot pizza stone in the oven, or, better yet in the summer heat, cook it on the grill. To grill the pizza, place the stretched dough on an oiled grill grate. Grill briefly over medium fire, then flip the crust with a spatula or tongs. Add the toppings, cover the grill and cook until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Asparagus and Prosciutto Pizza

Makes 2 small pizzas or 1 large pizza
Pizza dough (see below)

8 ounces buffalo mozzarella, drained, sliced
4 ounces prosciutto slices
Thin asparagus (if using thick asparagus, slice in half lengthwise)
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
Pepper

Assemble pizzas:
Place pizza crust on parchment paper. Lightly brush pizza crusts with olive oil. Arrange one layer mozzarella cheese over crusts. Top with layer of prosciutto. Arrange asparagus spears over prosciutto. Top with grated cheese. Slide crusts onto pizza stone (or on tray on lowest rack) in preheated 475 F. oven. Cook until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

For the Pizza Dough:

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

Stir yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and semolina. Mix well. Let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Combine remaining flour and salt in another bowl. Add to yeast with cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead with hands until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or use a mixer with a dough hook, and knead about 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal disks (or 4 if you would like small pizzas.) Let rest 30 minutes before shaping. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands, stretch the disks out to 10″ shapes.

Roasted Asparagus Crostini with Pecorino Cheese and Truffle Oil


Asparagus Crostini x

Recently I wrote about how much I like rustic desserts. Let me clarify that. I like rustic food. What is rustic food? It’s simple, local, seasonal food that makes use of available ingredients. Rustic cooking is a reflection of the countryside. It’s comforting and inviting, and it’s economical.


While crostini may conjure up images of dinner parties, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, they are quite grounded in rustic cooking. Bread that is no longer fresh, is lightly toasted and flavored with olive oil and garlic. The toppings can run the gamut, but are usually fresh, simple and composed with ingredients on hand.

These crostini were created as an impromptu starter for a barbecue this weekend. Day old baguette was efficiently put to use, while the asparagus were fresh from the morning’s farmers market. Pecorino Toscano and a little truffle oil were fished from the refrigerator and were the necessary finishing touches for this rustic and delicious appetizer.

Asparagus Crostini tf

Roasted Asparagus Crostini with Pecorino Cheese and Truffle Oil

Makes 16

16 baguette slices, cut 1/4″ thick
2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
Extra-virgin olive oil

8 asparagus spears, bottoms trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shaved mild Pecorino cheese (Pecorino Toscano)

Prepare crostini:

Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C). Rub baguette slices with garlic. Lightly brush with olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet and bake until golden brown. Remove and cool.

Prepare asparagus:

Toss asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Arrange in one layer on baking sheet. Roast under oven broiler until bright green and slightly charred but still firm, 3-4 minutes. Remove. When cool enough to handle cut horizontally in thin slices. If stalks are thick, slice in half lengthwise and cut halves in thin slices. Transfer to a bowl and toss asparagus with truffle oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Top crostini with asparagus. Top asparagus with pecorino cheese. Serve immediately.

Orrechietti with Prosciutto, Asparagus, Peas and Mint

Pasta Peas Prosciutto

It was a good day at the farmer’s market today. Spring is in full force in Northern California.  Baskets of arugula, mesclun, mustard greens and kale flowers vied for attention between tables teetering with asparagus, artichokes, fava beans and sugar peas.  I discovered elephant garlic scapes, nibbled on Venezuelan artisan chocolate, sampled extra-virgin olive oil and a sublime balsamic vinegar.  The sun was strong in the sky after a week of rain.  It was only 8:30 in the morning.

In usual fashion, my money ran out before my eyes and tastebuds tired.  Each time I go to the market I promise myself I will walk through the stalls first – just to look, taste samples, take pictures, and restrain myself from heavy purchases.  Once through I will double back to stock up, saving the heaviest items for last: citrus, potatoes and tubers, bottles of oil, kilos of meat.

In a perfect world.

This time, I made it through two thirds of the market before I had to turn back, my shopping bags bulging, my arms aching from dangling plastic sacks, handbag and camera, everything dusted in a coat of flour from ficelles balancing in the crook of my elbow.  A woman passed me pulling a smart trolley layered with wicker baskets filled with her market harvest, gracefully maneuvering through the crowds, stopping and chatting, tasting, selecting.  I made a mental note to find one of those for myself.

This recipe is inspired by today’s acquisitions and the TasteFood recipe archives:

Orrechietti with Prosciutto, Asparagus, Peas and Mint
Serves 4

6 ounces (170 g.) prosciutto
1 pound (500 g.) asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on the diagonal in 1″ pieces

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup (125 ml.) chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (375 ml.) heavy cream
1 cup shelled English peas
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground black pepper

Additional grated Pecorino Romano for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 F./170 C.  Arrange prosciutto slices on baking sheet.  Bake in oven 15 minutes.  Turn off oven and leave prosciutto in for additional 15 minutes.  Remove.  Break prosciutto into 1/2″ pieces.  Set aside.

Steam asparagus pieces until tender but still firm.  Remove from heat and rinse under cold water; set aside.

In a large saucepan cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain and return to pot.
While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in skillet.  Add garlic and cook until aromatic but not brown, about 1 minute.  Add stock and cream.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cook until reduced by a third.  Add peas and cook one minute.  Add asparagus, half the prosciutto, and freshly ground black pepper, stirring to combine.  Add cream sauce to the orrechietti. Stir in 1 cup Pecorino Romano and 1/4 cup mint. Serve immediately. Garnish with additional grated Pecorino Romano cheese, mint leaves and remaining prosciutto.

Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto and Tarragon Aioli

Asparagus and lemon go hand in hand.  The citrus compliments the grassy, astringency of ripe asparagus while the two seasonal ingredients sing springtime. A luxurious aioli infused with tarragon elevates this dish with a rich and bright creaminess. Just to keep it real, oven-dried prosciutto  is crumbled over the dish adding salty, porky crunch. Be sure not to overcook the asparagus. They should be steamed until bright green, but still firm.

Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto and Tarragon Aioli
Serves 4-6 as a side dish or appetizer

Make the Aioli:

2 very fresh large egg yolks*
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Combine the egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice, mustard and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until homogenized.  Combine oils in a small bowl. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in oil until the mixture comes together and thickens. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in tarragon and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate until use.

*Due to the slight risk of Salmonella, use only fresh, properly refrigerated and clean Grade A or AA eggs with shells intact, and avoid contact between the opened shell and the whites or yolks.

Prepare the Asparagus:

1 1/2 pounds asparagus, ends snapped off, bottoms cut on the diagonal
sea salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon
6 prosciutto slices

Preheat oven to 325 F. Arrange prosciutto slices in one layer on a baking tray. Bake in oven 15 minutes. Turn off oven. Keep prosciutto in oven for additional 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and blanch briefly until they are bright green in color, but still firm, 1 minute.  Remove, drain and refresh under cold water. Lay on a kitchen towel in one layer to cool and thoroughly dry.
Arrange asparagus on a platter. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over. Sprinkle with sea salt. Drizzle Tarragon Aioli over asparagus (or serve on side for dipping.) Break  the prosciutto into shards and scatter over the asparagus.

In Season: Asparagus and Leek Frittata

Fritatta

I was serious when I mentioned that I cannot resist buying asparagus right now. Gloriously firm, upright and grassy-green, they are presently in season in California, and I am doing my best to overdose on these veggie wonders. So far there is no end in sight to my cravings.

Asparagus have an ancient culinary heritage. Popular with the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, they even have an entry in the oldest surviving cookbook. Nowadays, asparagus are enjoyed in cuisines worldwide. Ripe asparagus are mildly sweet and astringent with a hint of lemon and grass.Their growing season is in the springtime, and they are a good match with other spring ingredients such as lemon, peas, morels and favas. In addition to tasting great, asparagus are healthy to eat. They are low in calories and great sources of vitamins A, B6, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc and folic acid. What’s not to like about all of that?

This is a recipe I prepared over the weekend from the TasteFood archives. As it was Easter, there were handily many eggs in the house, so a frittata was an obvious choice for a light meal. In this frittata, asparagus and leeks are sautéed and combined with fresh eggs, Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for a rustic yet elegant one dish meal.

Asparagus and Leek Frittata

Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek (white and green part only), halved lengthwise and sliced thinly – about one cup
1 lb./500 g. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on diagonal in 1″ pieces
6 large eggs
6 oz. (175 g.) Gruyère cheese, grated
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven broiler.
Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat.  Add leek and sauté until soft but not turning brown, about 3 minutes.  Add asparagus, sprinkle lightly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and sauté until bright green and crisp tender, about 5 minutes.
Lightly beat eggs in a medium bowl.  Add 3/4 of the Gruyère cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour eggs over asparagus, gently stirring to distribute evenly.  Cook over medium heat until bottom is set and top is still runny.  Sprinkle remaining Gruyère cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over top.  Place skillet in oven under grill.  Broil until frittata is puffed and golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately or at room temperature.

Spring Fling: Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans

Asparagus morel fava

It never fails.  Come spring I do my best to overdose on all the tempting produce that arrives at the  market.  Mind you, I live in California, so the winter is hardly dire and food is certainly not relegated to root cellars.  Nonetheless, when the spring season’s first asparagus, English peas, and favas make an appearance, I cannot resist buying them – every day.

Asparagus is one of my all time favorites and they never cease to catch my attention. Today is a perfect example.  Plump, purple-tinged asparagus were nestled in my market’s produce section, their tips standing at attention, towering over the artichokes to the left and English peas to the right.  It was impossible to pass them by without picking up a bunch, breathing in their clean, grassy aroma, appreciating their weight and firmness.  Into my basket they went.

Asparagus

Fortunately, my family shares my love for asparagus.  Yet, in order to keep them interested as long as my seasonal obsession continues, I know I must come up with new and interesting ways to serve asparagus.  After all, I know that when I return to the market tomorrow or go the farmers market this weekend I will buy more.

This recipe combines asparagus with morels and fava beans.  If you are not lucky enough to find fresh morel mushrooms, dried ones will do. I used fava beans from my freezer from a crate I blanched, shelled and froze in small freezer bags to enjoy through the winter.

Morel fava pasta

Linguine with Asparagus, Morels and Fava Beans
Serves 4

1/2 ounce (15 g.) dried morel mushrooms or 1/4 pound fresh morels, cleaned, sliced
1 pound (500 g.) asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1″ pieces
Salt

1 lb. (500 g.) linguine

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup (125 ml.) chicken stock
1 cup heavy (250 ml.) heavy cream
1 cup fava beans, blanched, shelled
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Pecorino cheese shavings for garnish – use a mild cheese such as Pecorino Sardo or Brigante
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare morels:
If using dried morels, place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water.  Let sit 20 minutes.  Drain and gently squeeze out any extra liquid.  Cut in half lengthwise and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add asparagus and blanch until crisp-tender and bright green, 1-2 minutes; do not overcook.  Remove with slotted spoon and refresh under cold water.  Set aside.
Add linguine to same pot and cook until al dente or firm to the bite according to package instructions.  Drain and return to pot.

Heat olive oil and melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and morels.  Saute until garlic is fragrant and morels are tender, 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and cream.  Simmer until thickened and somewhat reduced, about 5 minutes.  Stir in asparagus pieces and fava beans.  Add to pasta in pot and toss to combine.  Stir in Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Serve on individual plates or large serving bowl.  Garnish with shavings of Pecorino cheese.