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Grilled Sesame Asparagus


Here's another recipe to break up your asparagus monotony (that is, unless you are coincidentally eating sesame asparagus nightly).

When cooked at its freshest, grilled asparagus spears are practically candy.  Tender, sweet, nutty, with a slight tang from the rice vinegar, this recipe is a natural in asian-inspired meals.  Try it alongside grilled chicken or salmon (using the same dressing as a marinade for those too), or tossed with noodles.  I imagine the stalks would be stunning draped across a big platter of this peanut noodle dish from ramshackleglam.com.

They can definitely be grilled a day ahead and served cold or at room temperature, for an excellent effortless entertaining side dish.  Just save the final dressing and sesame seed tossing for right before serving.


Grilled Sesame Asparagus
by Catie Schwalb

Serves four, as a side dish.

2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
6 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Salt, to taste
1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed
3-4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Heat grill to medium-high.

Combine the vinegar and garlic in a bowl, and allow to sit for 10 minutes, to infuse the vinegar with the flavor of the garlic. Then, while whisking constantly, pour the sesame oil into the bowl in a slow, thin stream. You can also stream the oil in slowing through the top of a blender. Taste, and adjust salt.

Toss asparagus with half of the sesame dressing. Grill until tender, about 2-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of stalks. Turn down heat if they start to blacken too quickly.  When cooked through, remove from grill and toss with remaining dressing and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Alternatively, you can allow the asparagus to cool after grilling and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. Just before serving toss with dressing and sesame seeds.


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Asparagus Ricotta Galette


As hinted at earlier this week, asparagus is bustin' out all over on our micro-farm.  One of the very first signs of a long season of fresh food from the gardens, this perennial faithfully returns each May, basically without us having to do a thing.  (That's my kind of garden vegetable!)

Since it is never better than right now, we'll eat just-picked asparagus almost every night for dinner for the next several weeks.  Then finally, when we can't stand it anymore, which fortunately is right about when the asparagus season peters out, we'll put our asparagus habit to bed for another 11 months.  Once you've had it this fresh and this good, you are spoiled for anything trying to masquerade as asparagus in the rest of the year.

But it is a challenge to keep it interesting in the dinners ahead.  Even as good as it is, when having asparagus almost nightly, sauteing, grilling, and soup-ing gets old quickly.  This savory galette was a very welcomed change, and was gobbled up quickly last evening.  It would also be wonderful for brunch, or cut in small squares for late spring hors d'oeuvres. I have been on a galette with corners kick this year, but feel free to form it in the more traditional round shape, or any free-form shape that works for you and your stalks.


Asparagus Ricotta Galette, with Caramelized Shallots and Lemon Zest.
By Catie Schwalb

Makes one 9" square or round galette.

1 single pastry crust (half of the recipe posted here, in my "Pie Crust 101" piece)
1 large bunch fresh asparagus, about 8 ounces, washed and woody ends trimmed.
1 1/2 cups shallots, sliced thin (4-5 large shallots)
1 cup ricotta (here's my recipe for homemade fresh ricotta)
1 tablespoon lemon zest, from about one lemon
2 eggs
salt
olive oil, for roasting and sauteing

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Make the pastry crust, as described here, and allow to rest for thirty minutes in the refrigerator.

Lightly toss asparagus with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt.  Roast on a baking sheet in the oven until about half way roasted.  For pencil-thin asparagus this took six minutes.  Roast longer for thicker stalks.  Do not roast all the way, as they will continue to cook when the galette is baked.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 425 F.

In a wide saute pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat.  Add shallots and stir to coat with oil.  Turn heat down to medium-low and slowly cook, stirring every few minutes, until fragrant, light amber, and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Lower the heat if they start to brown too quickly.  Set aside.

Combine ricotta, lemon zest and a good pinch of salt.  Taste, and adjust salt if necessary.  Add one egg and mix thoroughly.

Roll out pastry dough to 1/4 " thin and transfer to a baking sheet, either by gently folding in quarters, or rolling around your rolling pin.  Spread a thin, about 1/4" layer of the ricotta mixture on the dough, leaving at least an inch boarder of dough around all sides.  Top with caramelized shallots, and then asparagus.  Fold dough up and over on all edges and crimp where necessary to hold in place.

For a more golden crust, mix one egg with a tablespoon of water, and using a pastry brush, gently brush perimeter of the crust with the egg wash.

Bake at 425 F for 35-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

 


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happyasparagusmonday.


 



 



 



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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