Sunday, April 19, 2009

Asparagus with a Showering of Lemon Butter Crumbs

April is the start of asparagus season in the northwest.

In Central Washington, where I was born and raised, wild asparagus grows in the apple orchards and along the ditches of back country roads. I have fond memories of driving to and from town with my mother- enjoying the lovely spring day -when out of the blue, she would slam on the brakes and exclaim "asparagus!"

I joke today that my mother could spot asparagus alongside the road even at 55 mph. Sadly, I do not think that I inherited this capability.

But nothing tastes better than fresh asparagus and I am always disappointed to find that our local grocery chains neglect these wonderful spears of springtime. The proper way to ensure freshness is to keep the cut ends in water or on ice- you rarely see this done in the produce department.
I prepare aspargus a few different ways.
  • Asparagus pairs well with a simple sprinkling of lemon juice, or a dusting of parmesan cheese.

  • Sunday morning breakfasts in the spring, I often add the tips to a "spring omelet" along with shrimp and grueyer cheese.

  • For a great spring appetizer, wrap a spear of aparagus (I prefer pickled for this recipe) and a dollop of cream cheese in a very thin slice of ham. You can cut these into bite-size portions or present them whole.

This year I served Asparagus with Lemon Butter Crumbs as a side for Easter dinner. The recipe is from Delia Smith- it is very easy to prepare and it has become a favorite preparation in the Cook household.

Asparagus with Lemon Butter Crumbs

Serves 4

finely grated zest 1 lemon

1½ oz (60 g) fresh white breadcrumbs (about 2 slices bread, crusts removed)

You will also need a steamer.

First wash the asparagus in cold water, then take each stalk in both hands and bend and snap off the woody end. Arrange the asparagus stalks in a steamer and steam over simmering water for 5-6 minutes, or until they feel tender when tested with a skewer, being careful not to overcook them. While the asparagus is cooking, heat 1 oz (25 g) of the butter in a frying pan. As soon as it is frothy, stir in the breadcrumbs and cook them, stirring constantly, until they're evenly browned and crispy. Then tip the crumbs on to a plate, stir in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.

Now put the pan back on to the heat and add the remaining butter. As soon as it is frothy, add the cooked asparagus and toss to coat them in the butter. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Divide the asparagus between warmed serving plates and sprinkle with the crumbs. Serve immediately.


K-Falls Farmgirl Cheryl said...

Yes, the good old days.. when Mom had great asparagus sighting eyes..

Diana said...

Here in the Methow Valley there is a little Asparagus, but when you are going to Celan or Wenatchee there are many patches of these plant. There is one that's about three or four acres on rail road property, but they don't seem to mind people picking there. It's like a treasure hunt, but watch out for the snakes! This is the crazy way to get Asparagus, but satisfaction. Diana

Nancy Cook said...

I really don't like snakes, but I think I might be willing to endure snakes for fresh asparagus!

Chrissy said...

that looks delish!.. never thought of putting bread crumbs over them... they're great in stirfry and salads...