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
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.