It’s here, it’s here, the first day of spring! As I was writing this there was no way of telling what the weather would be like, but at least we have the sunlight going for us, the crocuses popping up, and in another month or so, perhaps we’ll be enjoying fresh, local asparagus!
I realize not everyone likes asparagus, it is quite an unusual flavor, quite earthy and green. I’m kind of surprised my tastes have evolved to the point where I enjoy it so much, but I think I also enjoy it because it is such as seasonal treat. Sure, you can get it at the grocery stores almost any time of year, but it never tastes as good when it’s been shipped from thousands of miles away. It doesn’t keep well, so you really are best to find a local source for it. I’ve dreamed of raising it, but with two little boys, I’m afraid they would trample it quite into submission. Maybe in a few more years.
The trick to asparagus is to not overcook it. That strange, earthy tastes turns south very quickly when it’s served in the form of mush. You want to cook it to the point where you can pierce it with a fork but it still gives a little resistance. This can mean it’s good for a quick stir-fry, or you can boil them for 2 minutes and then throw them in an ice bath to prevent them from continuing to cook even after being removed from the boiling water, or you can roast them in the oven, and the amount of time can vary greatly, depending on the size of the stalks. Try to buy bunches in uniform size so they cook to the same level of doneness at the same time.
First up, a quick dinner of pan-cooked salmon and asparagus with a quick savory and spicy seasoning mix. I’ve seen a lot of asparagus and salmon recipes, and this one is very straightforward and perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
Second, I was interested in this crab and asparagus omelet with spinach. Here you want those tiny spears because you don’t even directly cook the asparagus, you just sort of warm it up with the crabmeat once they’re nestled inside the mostly-cooked eggs. What a decadent and yet still healthy breakfast!
And finally, an easy side dish of roasted asparagus and mushrooms. This recipe calls for the fancier varieties of mushrooms, but I think you could use baby bellas if you still slice them pretty thin. They use both olive oil and butter for a nice rich finish, and a nice drizzle of balsamic vinegar at the end. Mmmm, this would go great with a nice New York strip!
20 minute simple salmon and asparagus
For the seasoning:
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
For the asparagus:
1 pound asparagus
For the Salmon:
4 fillets salmon about 1 1/2 pounds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the spices together in a dish.
Place salmon and asparagus on a greased pan. Spray top of salmon and asparagus with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle the asparagus with some garlic salt and the salmon with the seasoning mix. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until fish flakes and reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
Sprinkle salmon with lemon zest and serve.
Crab asparagus omelet
¼ red chile, finely chopped
3 asparagus spears, finely chopped
1 teaspoon butter
2 ounces white crabmeat
Handful baby spinach
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and season.
Melt the butter in a sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the eggs and cook for 2 minutes, then spoon the crab and asparagus into the middle. Sprinkle over with the chile and nestle the spinach into the egg. Cover with the lid for 2 to 3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted and the omelet has puffed up.
Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 pound hen-of-the-woods or oyster mushrooms, or 8 ounces morel mushrooms
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup loosely packed watercress or arugula (about 1/4 ounce)
Flaky sea salt
Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Arrange asparagus and mushrooms in an even layer on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and toss to coat.
Roast in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until charred and tender, about 15 minutes. Add butter and thyme leaves. Once butter is melted, toss vegetables to coat, and roast until glazed, about 5 minutes.
Arrange roasted vegetables on a platter, top with watercress, and season with flaky sea salt to taste. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.