Tag Archives: asparagus

Easy pickled asparagus

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Spring came late this year.  Maybe you experienced it yourself; otherwise, these whiny posts might’ve clued you in.  No bother – We all still seem to be smitten with the token spring produce players.  Every year, an onslaught of rhubarb, asparagus, ramp, etc. posts flood the internet.  I’m a definite contributor…  and I’m not apologizing.  But the spring season seems so fleeting.  The ramps don’t stick around long, and then asparagus gets woody, stringy, and flavorless.  And with spring quickly turning to summer around here, I wanted to find a way to make that green, grassy joy-flavor stick around a little longer.

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Enter: the pickle.  Frozen and canned asparagus fall apart.  Freezing makes the cell walls burst, causing asparagus to go limp and lifeless.  Canning does the same, except in the form of overcooking.  But pickling…

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Pickling takes that grassy flavor and intensifies it.  It’s also perfect for those big stalks you find at the market a 3 or 4 weeks into the season that seem to be un-cookable when roasting or sauteing, then suddenly are overcooked and bland in the blink of an eye.  I like to blanch the spears briefly before dousing them in the hot vinegar solution, just to make sure each spear is cooked through.  But magically, pickled asparagus keeps some of it’s bite.  I wouldn’t say it’s crunchy… it’s certainly “bendy.”  But it’s also firm, and sliced into a salad or munched alongside an after-work beverage, pickled asparagus is one of my early summer favorites.

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Easy pickled asparagus
Makes 2 – 24oz. jars
Inspired by Simple Bites and She Simmers

*Note: I used the pint-and-a-half wide mouthed jars that are 24 oz. each.  You can certainly use wide mouth pint jars, but you’ll have to trim more of the asparagus bottoms off.  Also be sure to wash your asparagus well in cool water; gritty pickles are the worst.

1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed to fit jars
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 dried chiles de arbol, or 2 teaspoons dried chile flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon mustard seed

Wash and trim asparagus.  Bring a pot of water to rolling boil and blanch the asparagus (in multiple batches, if needed,) for one minute; rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar in a pot (I used the same one) and bring to a rapid boil.  While waiting for the mix to boil, put one chile (or one teaspoon chile flakes), one clove of garlic, and 1/2 tablespoon of mustard seeds in each jar.  Then place asparagus in jars.  Once the mix comes to a boil, stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Carefully pour the boiling liquid into the jars, and carefully top with a lid.  Leave at room temperature for 6-8 hours, then move to the fridge to store.
Pickles are ready to be eaten after 24 hours in the fridge, but I let them sit about 48 hours before digging in.

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Filed under Condiments, etc., Side dishes, Summer, Vegetables

asparagus risotto

 

This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no.   This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring.  It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk.  Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.

Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can.   A very asparagusy risotto indeed! 


Asparagus risotto
adapted from Mario Batali

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal

1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard.  Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks.  Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks.  Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water.  Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat.  Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice.  Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly.  Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.

Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more.  At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite.  Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian