Monday, April 21, 2008

Asparagus Week

Artful, no? I think I remember reading somewhere that white asparagus is just regular asparagus that was kept from sunlight. Thinking over it though, I'm not sure how that could be true because then how would the plant grow at all? I guess it could just be artificial light which for some reason inhibits the chlorophyll while still providing the asparagus much needed nutrients. But if that's true, does that mean we could make anything white by keeping it from sunlight? Could albino broccoli happen? Any alert science minded readers are invited to join this debate. Then again, if that first "fact" is wrong, then I guess its all a moot point.

Moving on...asparagus week had its ups and downs with a bit more emphasis on the downs. I think I'll include more (as in more than none) recipes this week because it has come to my attention I am not alone in not liking asparagus and perhaps I'll seek to change that. Of course, these recipe recommendations would be more compelling if I could in good conscience endorse their output, but I encourage non-asparagus likers to give it a go nevertheless. My family has always been a fan of the tomato asparagus salad which my mother mentioned in the comments. The actual list of ingredients for that is as follows:
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
Mix that together and you have what everyone in my family will tell you is a tasty salad. I thought then that I might enjoy it as well, but I had forgotten that my family members are unabashed asparagus likers all. They even eat it straight! Boiled, no less! So yes, my consensus on the asparagus salad is that you may like it, but I fear that liking asparagus already may be a prerequisite.

I wanted to experiment with different methods of cooking asparagus, but was limited by not having a grill. I did learn that broiling in the oven with some olive oil and salt is superior to boiling. Actually, I still wasn't too fond of it even after broiling, but my friend ate the stalks like candy. In a perfect world, I would try my hand at frying asparagus, but I feel this may be one of those things that only works well in restaurants.

The only truly successful venture was some cream of asparagus soup I made which was actually pretty delicious. So far it seems soups are the only mode of vegetable consumption to never let me down. This gives me hope that should I ever lose all my teeth, I will be able to take it in stride. I'll try to recreate the recipe, but as I have a tendency when cooking to just throw things in without measuring, it may be a little coarse. The short hand for this recipe would be: take asparagus and add copious amounts of butter and cream until a soup is formed. But to break it down further: First, I cut up the some fresh asparagus into 1 inch pieces and boiled them in enough vegetable broth to cover them, but not really that much. In another pan, I melted some butter and then added some flour as a thickener, followed by some (maybe a quarter cup?) of cream and some (a cup?--wow, this is the most useless recipe ever) more broth and cooked that until thickened. Once the asparagus was soft, I combined the two mixtures and let it cook a little longer with a little salt (I also may have added pepper, but its all a little hazy now). Then, because, I don't like chunks of gross things in my soup, I pureed the whole mixture. I garnished with a little Parmesan cheese. So yeah, if anyone is feeling intrepid and wants to try this based on my shakey description--I can say that I fully recommend this. Coming from a general disliker of asparagus, I feel this endorsement should carry some weight.

I'm sorry I can't offer more/better recipes. My readers are so good about offering reliably good fare, but I seldom give back to the vegetable liking community. Next week, I shall endeavor to write something down if I feel like it may turn out to be delicious.

Next week: peas!


Susan Thompson said...

I fully intended to join you in trying asparagus this week. I picked some up at the grocery store but then it all just started to seem so complicated, so I put it back. One of these days, though, I may actually try your soup and salad recipe. I found the measurements in the soup recipe perfectly understandable. Have you ever tried Wondra flour? It's great for thickening things.

Peas, arghh! My childhood nemesis! Are you aware that split pea soup doesn't taste anything like real peas? It's actually pretty good. Even I can eat pea soup. Andersen's Pea Soup is a pretty good canned soup, and if you choose to make it from scratch, use a ham bone for the broth and also some ham meat as well as onions, celery, carrots, etc.

I also like those little snow peas, those tiny little pods, in salads and stir fries. Oh yes, and I can tolerate a tiny amount of cold peas on a salad. That's about it.

Rachel said...

I have to admit, I looove asparagus. But I know it's not a vegetable for every person. The cream of asparagus soup sounded really good.

Not saying that you would try this, but just in case you were thinking about it...don't ever get canned peas. Just straight up canned peas. Gross.

Snow peas are really good. My family just snacks on them raw (Kirk thinks this is really funny).

Susan Thompson said...

I think the white asparagus looks pale and pasty and unhealthy, the purple one looks too healthy, and the green one looks just right.

By the way, I tried the cream of asparagus soup yesterday and the salad today, as well as some asparagus in with my eggs this morning. All pretty tasty.

fafner said...

Susan---I'm so glad it worked for you! Especially because you've given me so many recipes.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You’ve come a long way since adding color to your diet consisted of red, white and blue frosting on your Fourth of July cake.
Here are three thoughts on Peas:
1. Frozen green peas are great for introducing kids to veggies. They shake out of a sack into a small bowl or onto a tray. And they still taste good when those kids reach adulthood and need simple travel or TV food. In the freezer of discriminating folk they provide a last-minute addition to soups or curries.
2. Split pea soup has long been a family favorite of mine. The Dutch put all kinds of smoked pork stuff in theirs. Americans tend to add onions and carrots. If you have frozen a few chicken bones, use them to make broth first. Then add a cup of the dried peas to 2 or 3 cups of the simmering broth. With all that added flavor, who needs salt?
3. Sugar snap peas are fabulous, rinsed and eaten whole, either raw or steamed. But like snow peas, they’re pretty costly. I see that WalMart groceries have frozen sugar snaps on sale through May 3. I also see that your town has 2 such WalMarts. Bon appetit.

fafner said...

I was initially creeped out, annoynmous, that you know the number of Walmarts in the town where I live. However, I have since talked to someone who gave me a clue to your identity.

So if you are in fact the person I think, who lives on a street named after an opera, then I welcome you warmly to my blog!

Alexa said...

i've heard that asparagus makes everyone's pee smell funny, but only certain people can actually smell it. i'm also told it is not a pleasant smell.

i cannot smell it.