Would you just eat asparagus for every meal? asked Stoic the Vast when we had so much growing in the yard that I could easily have had it three times a day.
Yes, said I. Who wouldn’t? Well, evidently, himself for one.
We’ve got a wee bit in our new yard but, mostly, I’ll be buying small $4 bunches at the Wednesday farmers’ market. That’s OK — the crunchy green stalks are worth it.
I was late to the asparagus ball. When I was a kid, it came as droopy, vaguely slimy stalks in cans. Big ick!
Then one magical day — I can’t remember where or when — I had fresh asparagus, just “passed through some steam” as Stoic would describe the cooking until tender-crunchy process. Add a little butter, a little salt and pepper, toasted sesame seeds for truly special occasions. You can add a little garlic or even fresh mushrooms, but asparagus does not require their company at the ball.
Asparagus, to me, is the perfect taste of green and spring. Not the sweet green of the avocado, the whispery green of new lettuce or the bitter green of kale and arugula. It is, as Goldilocks said, just right.
I snap off the crunchy ends (you can always use them in broth or soup) and stand the stalks upside down in salted water. If they’re going to be in the water all day, put a plastic shopping bag over top and refrigerate.
When you’re ready to cook, put a good 1/4 inch water in a big skillet and bring it to a boil. Drop the asparagus into the boiling water and cover, leaving it there until you can smell it. Do not leave the room or you’ll have slime that’s more than vague. When you smell it and it’s turned bright, bright green, drain it and dab on a bit of good butter, along with the S&P.
Leftover can be chopped into bite-size pieces and served over toast, preferably thick rye, in a Swiss-cheesy cream sauce with sliced hard-boiled eggs.
Serve a dish of asparagus with tongs, but let everybody at the table know that it’s OK to eat individual spears with your fingers (not with butter dripping to your elbow, obviously). Especially if it makes the kids more inclined to try it.