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  • Writer's pictureJorge Martinez

Veg Spotlight: Asparagus



Asparagus for me marks the time when the local growing season begins out here in the pacific NW. I love this vegetable, it has such a nice subtle flavor that allows it to be extremely diverse. It can really stand out on its own or be a great complement in other dishes. Its amazing the difference in quality between the locally grown varieties and the other stuff that comes in when its out of season.

My personal favorite way to prepare asparagus is to either roast or grill it. This adds another dimension of flavor to it that can't go wrong. Preparing asparagus is really simple and not time consuming at all. What you are trying to avoid when preparing asparagus is the woodier end of the spear that is usually about the bottom 2-3 inches. Some chef will simply use their chef's knife and cut the bottoms off, which will allow for more uniformity of each spear. This is good for presentation, but there can always be a risk that some of the spears may be a little woodier than needed. My preferred way is to simply break each spear individually. It’s like breaking a pencil, you grab a spear with one hand holding the bottom and the other holding the top and then bend it until it breaks. The spear will break right at the spot where the woody end and the more tender end of the asparagus meet. This will allow you to know for sure that you’ve removed the tougher end. The downside of course is that all the spears will not be the same length. This may not be an issue if you don’t care, or if you plan on slicing it. After this is done you can place on the spears in a bowl or on a sheet pan and coat them with olive oil and salt and pepper. If you’re going to roast them in the oven, you will have wanted to have the oven preheated to 425oF. Toss the sheet pan in the oven and let them roast until they are nice and tender. It should take about 10 minutes or so, but cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the spears. The other way is you can cook them on a grill, which again will have been preheated. Place them perpendicular to the direction of the grates on the grill to avoid having them slip through the grate to the bottom of the grill. You’ll want to keep a close eye on them because it may flame up from the oil, so you may have to shift them around the grill to keep them from burning.

Below is the way I prepared it at a housewarming dinner.


Grab at the bottom and top of the spear

Bend gently until it breaks naturally

Drizzle with salt and pepper and grill until done

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Recipe

4 servings

Bruschetta with roasted asparagus, lemon ricotta, and balsamic reduction

  • 4 slices Sourdough Bread

  • 1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

  • 1 bunch - Asparagus Cleaned

  • 1 wedge - Parmesan Cheese for Shaving

  • 1 ea - Lemons for zesting

  • 1/4 cup - Balsamic Reduction

  • Grill or Stove-top cast Iron Grill

  • Olive Oil

  1. Begin by preheating your stove top griddle or outdoor grill with medium to high heat.

  2. Take 1 cup of Balsamic vinegar and place in a pan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer and reduce vinegar to a syrup. This will take about ten minutes or so. You need to keep a close eye on this towards the end, as it can burn quickly once it has reached the necessary consistency. If you reduce it too much, where it can't be drizzled, just add a little bit of water to bring it to the desired consistency.

  3. As the Balsamic is reducing begin preparing the ricotta cheese mixture. Add the lemon zest and some grated Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

  4. Begin preparing the asparagus spears as described above.

  5. Once the asparagus has been prepped, toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

  6. Place asparagus on the grill perpendicular to the direction of the grates. Cook until the asparagus is tender. Note: It may flame up when you initially put the asparagus on the grill. To avoid burning them, you can move them to a different spot on the grill until the flames subside.

  7. Oil the sliced sourdough bread on each side and place on the grill to toast the bread and get grill marks. Remove from grill and place on a cutting board.

  8. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on each bread slice.

  9. Place cooked asparagus on top of the ricotta that has been spread. You can choose to chop up the asparagus before placing it on top of the ricotta if you desire.

  10. Drizzle balsamic recuction over the bruschetta and grate some fresh lemon zest over the bruschetta, and shave some fresh Parmesan cheese using a peeler over the bruschetta.

  11. Cut each bread portion in half and serve.


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