Spring has sprung, and so has the Asperagus.

I recently started reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. And given that I read at the pace of a turtle, I may be able to follow her farming exploits in perfect synchronization with actual events. For instance, I just finished up her ode to asparagus, and it is in fact asparagus season. The market has been absolutely bursting with it, and vendors sell out quickly. Late coming patrons wander frantically up to me asking, "Where is the asparagus?" and I have to tell them that they must arrive earlier if they would like to share in the bounty of spring.

I have thus, been dabbling in this lovely veg, although Matt refuses to partake. In fact, when i brought home a bundle his comment to me was "I hope you got that for free." It is my goal to someday turn him, but as of yet, her remains staunchly anti-asparagus.

The asparagus I bought at the market was lovely, fresh and sweet. So in other words, perfect. I roasted a generous handful for myself in a grill pan to top a fake pasta carbanora, which is a staple around our house because it is cheap and delicious. We buy bacon, not pancetta, at our local socialist grocery, Aldi (you pay a quarter to "rent" the cart, and the checkers sit in high rolling chairs. Plastic bags cost a nickel, and you must follow the trajectory they lay out through the store. It reminds me of Finland, I love it) and then I cut it up into chunks and freeze it. One package lasts us a month. I love that I can consider "BUY BACON" a cost cutting tip, but it really is. Needless to say, Bacon & Asparagus = magic.

A few days later I whipped up a cream of asparagus soup for one. I tried to tempt Matt but was unsuccessful. He had Raman. Certainly his loss.

I know the asparagus season is fleeting so I am trying to eat up now. Someday I hope to have a permanent home rather than a rental, where I could really invest in an asparagus patch of my own. Perhaps then, I can convince the man that asparagus is indeed, the sign, and the taste, of spring.

Suito Pasta Carbonara with Roasted Asparagus
Really this is just pasta in a homemade cream sauce...but we like to think we are fancy.
  • Boil enough spaghetti to feed your crew. I believe in a glug of olive oil and a generous dash of salt in all pasta water.
  • While that is happening, cut up enough bacon for every diner to have a handful of lovely little squares. Toss these in a small fry pan over medium-high heat, and cook until golden.
  • Scoop the bacon out with a fork and drain on a paper towel (or toilet paper, whatever you've got that's absorbent).
  • Return the pan with fat in-tact to burner, turn heat down to low. Add spoonfuls of flour and stir into fat until you have a paste the consistency of shampoo. Be careful that everything remains at a low temperature. If your pan gets to hot, this roux will burn and that would be, well, sucky.
  • When your roux is ready, add a few generous glugs of milk, half & half, or cream. Stir constantly, and be sure to scrape down around the corners of your pan. You will see the roux separate into little bits within the cold milk, that is fine. As the milk heats up, the roux will also.
  • Season the mixture as you like good additions are Italian seasoning, white or black pepper, garlic, and of course salt. Be sure to taste as you go.
  • With a little time and constant attention the sauce will thicken. If it seems too thick, add more dairy, too thin, whip up some extra roux with butter and flour and add until you reach the consistency you desire. My dad keeps prepared roux in the freezer for this, I do not have that much forethought and thus periodically end up dirtying an unnecessary number of pans.
  • When the sauce is ready, mix with drained pasta and prepared bacon.
  • Top with whatever veg you like, pan roasted asparagus, spinach chiffonade, etc.
Cream of Asparagus Soup for One ("on a budget" style)

five spears fresh Asparagus
1 shallot or half an onion
olive oil
1 tbsp. prepared roux
1/2 can condensed milk
salt and pepper

Snap the ends of asparagus spears and par boil until they are bright green. While asparagus is boiling chop up a shallot or 1/2 an onion. Fry in a bit of olive oil until sweaty. Drain asparagus and place in food processor, along with the onion/oil mixture. Process 1-2 minutes until everything is very smooth. Place mixture in sauce pan with roux and milk. Stir constantly over low heat until thickened. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Serve with toast, and garnish with a dash of plain yogurt or fine oil.

1 comment:

  1. Hey lady,

    I didn't see this post when it came up cause it must have come up after another post or something, I dunno. Anyways, making a roux for the carbonara is brilliant, I've never thought of that. My dad used to make it without the eggs cause we as kids hated it, but he never added milk or cream, or made a roux, nor did I know you could freeze roux! Brilliant.

    I'll have to try it, won't I!

    And I have read that book, I devoured it, and immediately started worrying about where my food was coming from, but felt also delightful about the fact that we could grow anything we wanted to ourselves, given we have the time and space and money - one day. My parents dug up the entire back yard this year, took out the cherry tree, planted dwarf apple and cherry trees, and spent a long time digging a 2ft deep trench for the asparagus bed. They're pretty motivated, it's great.

    As always, it's a pleasure working with you and you're so often in my thoughts when I cook!



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.