Asparagus for the Colder Days of Spring

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I know there are many vegetables that signal spring has come, and I suppose Dan Barber should have shamed me into looking for other crops, but he didn’t it.  Asparagus has always served as the harbinger of spring.  So thrilled to have fresh green vegetables again, I find asparagus at its most satisfying when it is most simply prepared: grilled, roasted, or blanched with some citrus and spices.  Nonetheless, I gorge on asparagus so fully that I occasionally need a richer preparation - if only for variety.  In this case, a recent Nigel Slater column prompted me to dig out an old Mario Batali recipe. Although Goop claims this was an exclusive for them, my version dates to his immutable Simple Italian Food.  I made a few changes to the ingredients, but the essentials remain.

IMG_5460

There isn’t much to it, really.  First, I should note that I made polenta in the way that I usually make it (which is Nigella Lawson’s) with my addition of a parmesan rind.  As the polenta cooks, render fat from some pancetta cubes and then toss in onions and garlic (green garlic would have been fine as well).  Pour in some white wine, and once it has reduced, add some blanched asparagus and toss.  Then, serve over the steaming polenta.  For a little more substance to the dish, I topped it with a poached egg. 

It isn’t really a dish to celebrate warmer days, but it’s a dish for those lingering cold nights in early May that require both comfort food and a reminder that spring has, in fact, arrived.

Posted by Kevin on 06/12 at 07:41 PM


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