may 1, 2015
Two very important words : local, and asparagus. Placed together, an item that is at the top of your farmer’s market shopping list. You must enjoy local asparagus during its short run at the markets, because the taste, and the color, and the texture is superior to any asparagus purchased at your grocer’s. Unless, of course, your neighborhood grocer carries local.
Lucky for me, Marjorie, marketing wizard at Agriberry, had piles of lovely asparagus two weeks ago at the Farmers Market at St. Stephen’s in Richmond. Calling this crop “the best she has ever seen at Agriberry”, she did not have to twist my arm and I loaded my basket, choosing nice, fat spears for their meatiness and flavor.
Great asparagus can stand on its own, and should be embellished lightly so that the vegetable can shine brightly. Simply grilled with a brush of olive oil, steamed and drizzled with lemon butter or lightly dressed with a spritely vinaigrette, as with Asparagus with Orange Mustard Vinaigrette.
This carrot honey vinaigrette, made with coarse grain mustard and local honey from Stapleton’s Apiary, can be spooned with a light hand, or more assertively applied. Leftover dressing will last in the refrigerator for a few weeks and tastes great with pasta, potatoes and leafy salad greens. I always have little bottles of salad dressings and vinaigrettes, at the ready for when my fruits and vegetables need a boost.
So get there early this weekend for local asparagus at the farmer’s markets before the growers exhaust their supplies of the very best harbinger of spring in the vegetable kingdom.
Asparagus with Carrot Honey Vinaigrette
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
one pound serves four to eight
1.25-1.5 pounds fresh asparagus, yielding about 1 pound after trimming ends
one small carrot, grated finely
2 tablespoons honey, preferably local
2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
one medium clove garlic, zested or grated
pinch of fine sea salt
pinch of finely ground white or black pepper
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ cup neutral oil like canola or grapeseed
- In large saucepan or stockpot, wide enough to hold all asparagus spears in their full length, bring several inches of water to boil with a couple tablespoons kosher salt; if you are tempted to skip this step, note that the salt allows asparagus to retain vivid color and does not add a salty taste.
- Add asparagus, making sure all spears are immersed, and remove after two minutes(or until spears are crisp/tender) to a drying rack or a sheet pan lined with a kitchen towel; cool to room temperature or chill.
- In medium mixing bowl, whisk together carrot, mustard, honey, garlic, seasonings and vinegar.
- While whisking (place moist kitchen towel under bowl for support) , add oil in a thin stream until all is nicely incorporated.
- At serving time, arrange asparagus spears on platter and lightly spoon vinaigrette over center, passing reserved vinaigrette.
cook’s note : asparagus may be prepared and chilled one day ahead, and vinaigrette may be made up to one week ahead.