Wednesday, June 17, 2009
YAY for Spring Veg: Balsamic Grilled Asparagus
If you live on the West Coast you can laugh at us Midwesterners for being a bit late-on-the-draw with our asparagus recipes. But, the fact is, we're in the midst of Wisconsin asparagus season right now. In mid-June. And we couldn't be happier.
We've been loading up on fresh, local asparagus from JenEhr Family Farm at the farmer's market on Saturdays. And we'll keep on eating it until it's no longer available... by which point we'll be utterly sickened by the thought of eating any more. AH! The joys of seasonal produce!
Now, if you're a food geek (as I am), you might be interested in knowing that asparagus has a long, mysterious history. No one really knows its origins. However, we do know that it's been around for a VERY long time. The word asparagus originates from the Greek, asparagos – and the Greeks were known for their cultivation of the plant. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder speaks of their belief that if rams’ horns were pounded and buried, asparagus would grow in that place. Another famous Roman, Cato, wrote about his experiences cultivating asparagus from seed at the vernal equinox. The seeds should be sown, he wrote, in moist, dense soil and fertilized with sheep’s dung. Maybe a bit TMI -- but fascinating stuff, nonetheless.
That said, I won't hold you down for too long with the history of things. In fact, today I've got an easy-peasy grilled asparagus recipe that will have your tastebuds dancing. All you need (in addition to a pound or so of asparagus) are three ingredients that I'll bet you have lying around in your pantry -- a bit of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, and a bit of Dijon mustard.
Throw all three ingredients into a bowl. Almost any proportion works in this case, but I like equal parts vinegar/oil with a dollop of mustard.
Add a pinch of salt and a bit of freshly ground black pepper... and then whisk them thoroughly. It's not the prettiest vinaigrette in the universe, but I promise you'll find it far more than satisfactory.
Toss it with your cleaned asparagus. You can let the veg marinate for a while, or you can throw them directly on the grill. Heck, you can even eat them just as they are, if you're so inclined (really fresh asparagus is outstanding raw).
Grill the spears over direct heat for 5-10 minutes -- or until they are just tender.
One of the great things about asparagus is the speed at which it can be cooked. It's the perfect vegetable to prep as a quick side dish. Which explains the legendary phrase often attributed to Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus (known to be quite the fan of asparagus): Velocius quam asparagi coquantur (Quicker than you can cook asparagus).
Yay for ancient spring foods!
This post has been submitted as part of Real Food Wednesdays. Great stuff over there; check it out!
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