“A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
It’s Spring in Montana
Can you believe the vibrant color of these, our first daffodils? They have just bloomed and are a most welcome sight along with the lush, green grass. With seventy-plus degree days forecast for this weekend, I look forward to seeing many more golden blossoms. And under their feet will soon be a carpet of pink and lavender creeping phlox. What a glorious time of year.
Even a lost deer or two seem to agree as some of my tulips were nibbled to nubbins—most disappointing as I wait patiently from one year to the next for the spring bulbs to bloom. Evidently those deer were also waiting patiently for this spring delicacy.
An asparagus double feature
Today’s post features spring’s bounty with an asparagus double feature. You can prepare either of the recipes or both of them. When eaten together they complement one another perfectly and easily become a meal on their own. Or enjoy them more traditionally as a terrific first course, an excellent side vegetable, or as a colorful and tasty sauce with grains, pasta, fish or chicken. A note of caution: the sauce is also great au natural i.e., straight from a spoon.
The secret to roasted asparagus
Until last year, whenever I roasted asparagus the kitchen would fill with smoke and the fire alarm would screech for much too long as we fanned the alarms and opened and closed the front and patio doors trying to stop the noise.
Once I prepared the recipe from David Chang of Momufuku, I immediately saw that my oven temperature had been too low and I had used too much oil. Chang uses a 475 degree oven and the tiniest amount of oil—what a difference. Following are my very enthusiastic journal notes after last year’s success:
With these two changes and two pounds of gorgeous fat asparagus spears, some freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt we had the best roasted asparagus ever! 16 minutes it took for them to be fork tender, but then they were lusciously fat. With medium asparagus, I would say 14 minutes, and thin asparagus could be ready in as little as 10 minutes.
A great source of low-fat and naturally non-diary and gluten-free protein. As most soy beans have been genetically modified, I choose organic tofu that specifically states that it is made from non-GMO soy beans. Soft silken organic tofu (my first choice) hasn’t been available at my local grocery store, so I used firm in this recipe. The vinaigrette works as well with either silken tofu—the choice is yours.
What to do with the remaining tofu?
My answer will come as a dessert recipe in my next post. However, I would love to hear what you’ll be doing with your remaining cup of silken tofu.
Makes about 2 ¾ cups vinaigrette
3 scallions, coarsely chopped (½ cup)
½ cup cilantro leaves, packed and divided
¼ cup parsley leaves, packed
1/3 cup organic silken tofu (soft or firm)
¼ cup asparagus cooking water (from simmering the tough ends of the asparagus for 5 minutes)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup rice vinegar (NOT seasoned)
¼ teaspoon salt
8 twists freshly ground pepper
1 ½ pounds roasted asparagus (recipe follows)
While the asparagus is roasting, use a food processor or blender to puree two-thirds of the cilantro with everything except the asparagus. Once the asparagus is roasted, add it and process till smooth. Coarsely chop the remaining cilantro and use as a garnish.
Adapted from a recipe from David Chang of Momufuku
Crispy, juicy, luscious roasted asparagus without setting off the smoke alarm!
Makes 2-4 servings
1 ½ or 3 pounds medium asparagus, tough ends snapped off
(use 3 pounds of asparagus when roasting enough for both the vinaigrette and for eating)
1 teaspoon olive oil per pound of asparagus
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
Wash and dry the asparagus very well and snap off the tough ends. If you are making the vinaigrette, place these ends in a saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat so the water simmers for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit until you are ready to add ¼ cup of this asparagus cooking water to your vinaigrette.
Put the asparagus on the lower rack in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan and again shake it back and forth to reposition the asparagus. Return the pan to the oven for another 4 minutes. (Note: with thicker spears increase the roasting time by two minutes; with thinner spears, reduce the time by 2-4 minutes.)
When the asparagus is cooked, remove half of it to the vinaigrette mixture in the processor and process until smooth. Arrange the remaining spears on a serving platter or individual plates and spoon over some of the vinaigrette.