Vegan or Vegetarian
Our Seeking Warmer Weather Road Trip was a trip to remember and I can’t wait to share it with y’all (this, I can’t seem to get rid of, “y’all” so much better than “you guys” (why didn’t I start using it sooner). We loved South Carolina and Virginia and I hope to write a post or two about our adventures soon – the restaurants, the beaches, Monticello, Mount Vernon, the biking…the gators while biking…it was all good!
We came home last week and since then it’s been a whirlwind of laundry, unpacking, catching up with family and friends and a big ol’ bucket of mail.
How wonderful it was to leave New England for three weeks with nothing budding and come back to flowering everything, plus new local produce at my neighborhood market, The Farm Stand.
I adore local asparagus. Generally, I like asparagus enough, but locally grown asparagus is the bomb. In the past week or so, we have had it at least five times – I want to make sure we get plenty before it disappears from the farm stands and farmers markets.
It’s fresh, flavorful and tender enough to eat raw, but my favorite way is to roast it on a sheet pan with olive oil, seasonings and a drizzle of vincotto, which renders it slightly caramelized and deepens the flavor. Vincotto is a grape must condiment from Puglia, Italy that looks similar to balsamic vinegar but is thicker and much more richly flavored (you can use it in place of balsamic) and comes in a few flavors – original (always good), fig, raspberry (so delicious), orange and lemon. Collect them all or by one at a time – I’m never without vincotto of one sort or another! I make quick salad dressings with it, drizzle the raspberry vincotto on strawberries or add it to a pan of roasted veggies to help with deepening color and flavor. For my Maine readers, note that Micucci’s in Portland offers it at a terrific price and as far as I know, is the only place that I have found it locally, but you can also order it here.
The asparagus I purchased needed barely any trimming of the usually woody stalk end, which means what you paid for lands on your plate and less is sent to the compost bin or trash. Often, with California asparagus, I just trim off the woodiest end, and then peel the lower third of the stalk before cooking which works out fine.
Asparagus comes in various widths from the super skinny, pencil thin to big, fat stalks, and personally, I don’t find much of a difference between the widths, flavor wise. You do have to take the width into consideration when roasting, to avoid overcooking the stalks but at the same time, if they are particularly wide, be sure to cook them through. The cooking time in the recipe is for medium stalks. Locally grown asparagus tends not to be as uniform in size as what you might find on the shelf at the grocery store, there will certainly be some thin and thick stalks in the mix. I just try to take an estimate of roasting time and go from there.
The easiest way to tell if they are cooked, is to just bite into one (let it cool a bit so you don’t burn your lips!) to see if it is done. Feel free to fiddle with the roasting times accordingly.
I love this easy spring supper that is also simple to prepare – roast the asparagus, and while it is cooling a bit, fry up two pastured eggs, sunnyside up, to place on top of a serving of asparagus.
Do you know the trick to get the yolks to cook (well, at least warmed)? It’s so easy that it doesn’t really need a recipe, but after melting the butter in an 7 or 8-inch skillet over medium heat, I crack the eggs and add them to the pan, cook for 90 seconds-ish to let the white become mostly opaque, then place a heatproof dinner plate over the pan to cook for another minute or so, which allows the eggs to steam-cook a bit and the yolks to go from cold to warm, plus it warms the plate to boot. How do I determine this? I TOUCH them, yes, put your finger right on that yolk. If you like crispy edged eggs, then cook them a bit longer (without the plate on top) and/or raise the heat a bit to achieve that result. Slide the eggs over the asparagus, sprinkle with z’aatar and enjoy!
I hope you find the time on this holiday weekend to head to your local farmers markets and pick up some local asparagus to get cookin’ and crackin’ along with grilling for the first holiday weekend of the summer season!
- 1 ¼ pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed, dried, and woody ends trimmed off
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 – 1 ½ tablespoons fig vincotto (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Line up asparagus in one layer on sheet pan, drizzle with oil and Vincotto, sprinkle with salt and pepper. With the palm of your hand, roll the asparagus back and forth so that it is evenly covered with oil, vincotto and seasonings.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and with a wide spatula, turn asparagus over. Return to oven and bake for another 6 minutes, until asparagus is cooked through, soft, and lightly browned in spots. Serve immediately, or let cool, and serve warm.