Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Three Recipes, Two Kinds of Asparagus

Ugh. It’s been a long day. This may not be all it should be, but here goes. We had a great weekend, the first weekend a few local vegetables made it to the farmers market after a crazy bit of weather stunned us all, plants included. As it happens early and late in the season, the variety is not so much there, but what there is, is really good.

Saturday’s bounty included my lettuce plants, but also some large, sweet scallions, and fresh asparagus, green and purple. If you have never seen purple asparagus before, don’t worry. It’s not that common. It is uncommonly good, however. We bought four large bunches of purple and one of green, a bunch of scallions and a few more herbs and plants for me to try not to kill. By the way, the plants are looking good. I know, it’s only been a couple weeks, but I don’t have a good track record with horticulture.

It was warm, and beautiful outside all weekend. Sunday, we met some friends for a picnic snack and trip to the “farm,” a petting zoo and play area. I lured them into dinner by describing the menu: roasted purple asparagus; ham, asparagus, onion and goat cheese tart; very fresh lettuces for salad; roasted green beans; and a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé. To make the meal perfect, I got a "Mommy, I like it!" from the toddler section. And she ate it all.

No cheating, the recipes follow. I’ll make the long story short. No leftovers for the week. So, here I am on a Tuesday night after a long day, and nothing cooked. Clinging toddler, who also had a long day. She just held onto me when I picked her up. Would not let go, did not want in the car. Things were not looking good for trying out the new recipe I drafted over lunch at my desk.

I remember why most people don’t cook for their kids every night. There was clinging, and demanding, and pulling of my shirt. Little hands shooting up onto the counter to grab some ham as I chopped it, oh-so-close to the knife, oh-so-close to the stove. Ever have those moments that seem to stretch out like ten times their normal length? Now, why can’t those be the good moments?

Hard to believe it was just 15 minutes of time. Yup, still the same amount as a trip through the drive-thru. Well, there is the kitchen to clean. But I hear clattering down there. Hey, it might be done — thank you, husband! Rachel Ray never promises the clean up in her time frame, and she gets 30 minutes without a wild banshee diving through her legs and screaming the whole time.

So, tonight I cooked a variation on the theme, using many of the same ingredients. I promised more of these recipes! And, when all you have is a lot of one vegetable, that’s how you cook. Tonight’s feast was Asparagus, Ham, Peas and Tortellini with Parmesan Herb Sauce.

A heavy cream sauce would have drowned all the flavor of fresh spring veggies and herbs. I wanted to go light. There’s only a couple ways to lighten a cream sauce; use half-and-half, and a lot less sauce. The result is healthier, and tastes better without that “Thanksgiving dinner” feeling from saturated fat overload.

Ham, Asparagus, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus, Ham, Peas and Tortellini with Parmesan Herb Sauce

Looking for these recipes? They will be part of an upcoming book with Ali of Cleaner Plate Club.


Rachel said...

god, I love roasted asparagus. Now I'm going to have to go out and hunt down the last remaining tender asparagus in our local organic wholefood stores before they all disappear for the autumn. I've never seen purple asparagus - I think I must make a trip to the Queen Victoria Market (the mother lode for foodies here in Melbourne. Huuuuuuge inner city market. Delicious. Food. Wine. Produce. Cheese. Pastry. Funky atmosphere. Happy children everywhere. So when are you coming!?)

The Expatriate Chef said...

Tomorrow sound okay? I really want to make it there, bring the family, meet all of you, and one of my best friends as soon as she moves back from China! Soon, soon!

Rachel said...

sounds great!

BTW, I also forgot to say - Pouilly Fouisse (excuse the spelling)? You truly are a woman after my own heart. After a Sancerre, Pouilly Fouisse is my favorite, favorite, favorite French white wine.

The Expatriate Chef said...

It's a tough one to spell! It's my husband's favorite as well. I have a lovely recipe for Sancerre wine made into a syrup with honey and spices over fresh greens and a blue cheese crostini ... I can send you a link to that. My favorite white is an NZ wine, Brancott Reserve Sauvingon Blanc. Tastes like fresh pears. Lovely.

Rachel said...

the sancerre recipe sounds yummy. I like a sauvignon blanc as well; I especially like to use it in my risotto recipe; for some reason, it blends the best with everything else.

Anonymous said...

I just bought Purple Asparagus and need a recipe. Now, I have to decide which one to use.

viagra online said...

I don't know why, but people usually don't like asparagus. However, they can not imagine what they are losing. I love roasted asparagus, even is my favorite dish, but you give me new ideas, because I've not tasted the other recipes you published, so probably I'm gonna make it in this days.