Spargelzeit! (My way)

Not to be a bad German or anything, but I just cannot get behind the sudden enthusiasm this country whips up for white asparagus this time of year. I guess its exciting because its a local vegetable, unlike the imported mealy tomatoes and sad waxy peppers of winter, but just because its ours doesn't mean its awesome.

No, true to my American roots, I like my asparagus green and skinny. As though it has been exposed to sunlight and gone through the process of photosynthesis. Something about covering white, stalky "Spargel" with white, creamy Hollaindaise sauce just does not scream "Spring" to me.

I think a real Spring dish exploits the first greens and pumps it up with some citrus and those wintry standbys, onions and garlic. Something like this simple, weeknight Lemon-Asparagus Risotto. Or an asapargus sautee with tons of lemon and red peppers and tofu. You get the picture. And as for Spargelzeit, I'll jump on the next German food bandwagon... lets say rhubarb-zeit or mirabellen zeit.


Asparagus-Lemon Risotto

1 Quart of your favorite vegetable broth method
1 Tbsp. Olive oil + 1 tsp. vegan margarine
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 C. Arborio Rice
1 Glass decent white wine
A fistful of Asparagus, trimmed and cut into quarters
Salt, pepper, Thyme
Juice and zest from one lemon

1.) Heat several cups of your vegetable broth (or water + bouillon) and put on the backburner.
2.) In a large pot, heat olive oil and margarine over medium heat. When sizzling, add in onions. After 1-2 minutes, add in garlic. Stir and cook for about 4 minutes or until translucent.
3.) While this business is getting underway, heat another frying pan with a drizzle of oil on medium heat. When hot, add in your asparagus and a pinch of thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired state of "done-ness". (I like them a bit undercooked and crunchy, but to each her own.) Finish off with a dash of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon and remove from heat.
4.) Once onion and garlic are ready add in your rice and stir so that it gets coated with oil and butter, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, and then add in your glass of wine. Stir slowly, until wine has been absorbed.
5.) Now comes the "spoon and stir" portion of risotto for which it is famous. Ladle a spoonful of warm broth into your pot. Stir slowly until it has been absorbed by rice. Repeat this until mixture has significantly increased in size and rice is cooked through. (If you run out of broth, you can use water, no one will know.)
6.) At the end, when rice is fully cooked, stir in your asparagus mixture, lemon zest, and squeeze the rest of the lemon juice on in. Turn off the heat and cover and let sit for five minutes, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve with crusty bread, baked tomatoes, or whatever else strikes your fancy.


Song of the Day: David Bowie- Modern Love


Amber Sperling said...

I agree, I like my asparagus skinny and green sautéed in a frying pan with some spices and olive oil. I tried white asparagus the other day, and it was dull, flavorless, and not very exciting to look at. But, the store was out of the green stuff! shucks!

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