Asparagus with herbs and long table orchard dining at the Food Writers Seminar
A bunch of tall and slim asparagus is resting on my cutting board while I get the vegetable peeler. I plan to gently peel away the skin from the root end, third of the way up. I don’t always peel the spears but since I like the look of the light green part that is hidden below the skin I thought I’d peel it this time. I am preparing lunch for a few of my gal-friends and wanted to include asparagus on the menu. Asparagus is feminine, friendly and in season. Three reasons to serve it today.
I am cooking it on top of the stove in a wide skillet in which the asparagus can fit side by side in one layer, with room to spare. I need it to roll around a bit in the oil so it glistens on all sides and maybe even caramelize in the process. I will cook it in olive oil, garlic, stock and a few fresh herbs and then sprinkle a few pyramid shaped grains of maldon salt and a twist or two of freshly ground pepper. I will then pour cooking glaze from the skillet over the asparagus. Can it be any simpler?
We had a couple of beautiful asparagus dishes this weekend at the food writers seminar in West Kelowna. First was at an alfresco dinner among the orchards at Rabbit Hollow, prepared by chef Martin Lapris. Chef Lapris grilled local new asparagus along with several other vegetables and tossed them with Israeli couscous, olive oil, vinegar and a selection of fresh herbs. Next was a surprise lunch prepared for us by none other than chef Matthew Batey, formerly executive chef at Mission Hill winery. Chef Batey, “retired” at the ripe old age of 35, came out of “retirement” on Mother’s day leaving his wife and mother at home, to cook a beautiful lunch for us served at a long table outdoors at another orchard farm, Function Junction in east Kelowna. Chef Batey scattered freshly picked asparagus over tuna. I didn’t eat the tuna but picked a few spears off to add to my the lovely vegetarian plate I compiled from the buffet offering. There were beautifully roasted red beets, pickled pears, grain and vegetable salad and fresh and crisp green leaves in vinaigrette. The settings at both dinners were so perfect. I wish I could eat like that every day. I must put on a long table dinner on our rooftop patio this summer. I have the room, it’s only a matter of execution, and I don’t mean it literally. I’ll let you know if it happens.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup stock
A couple of pinches of maldon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Several sprigs of fresh thyme and/or other herbs
Cut off the bottom woody part of the asparagus. You can peel the bottom third if you wish, I did.
Combine all the ingredients in a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus in one layer. Depending on how many spears you are using you may need to cook it in two batches.
Cook uncovered over medium high heat, occasionally tossing the spears around so they roll in the oil and herbs.
When the spears are cooked but still a little crunchy remove from heat and transfer to a plate.
There should be just a little bit of the glaze left in the skillet. If there is more glaze then continue cooking over high heat to evaporate it further.
Pour the glaze over the asparagus and serve warm.