I can hear it now: really, Amy? Asparagus, AGAIN?
I’m sorry! This is what’s in season, and I’m getting all my food directly from the North Country earth, so asparagus (a third way) is what’s for dinner. But before we dive into those emerald spears, I’m going to tell a little story.
I had the morning off yesterday, so I slept in and puttered around for a bit before joyfully biking over to Little Grasse for the afternoon. Upon arrival, the itinerary was outlined: raspberry bush weeding, harvesting asparagus, and planting a couple of small and spindly looking fruit trees. It sounded romantic to my young and foolish mind. Raspberries! Fruit trees!
Forget strong legs. Let’s talk arms of steel. After yanking out weeds with root systems the size of my legs for an hour, I was covered with sweat and red as a strawberry. That’s before the tree-planting, and let me tell you, it is a far more involved process than I anticipated. The owner of the nursery one town over has a saying that Flip and Bob subscribe to (sensibly so), which goes like this: For every $10 tree, you’d better dig a $100 hole.
I dug a damn rich hole. As the one with really good shoes on, I was official sod-turner, which means getting the first six inches of soil bound by the grasses’ root systems out of the way. Then I was elevated to hole-digger, which entails exactly what it sounds like it entails. It was hot. It was muggy. I was tired. But you know what? I was proud of that turned sod, and very proud of the hole that was all mine. 3 ft x 3 ft x 2ft deep, that abyss into the earth existed solely by my effort. There’s something immensely satisfying about that. I slept remarkably well.
Alright, back to our regularly scheduled program. These asparagus hadn’t been harvested in a couple of days, so they were larger than normal, and there was just a little more of it.
We sorted them into piles by length (width isn’t important. How long the spear is tells you how old it is. If you are ever gifted a large bundle of asparagus that you can’t possibly eat all at one meal, cook the long, old pieces first and set the short ones aside for a later date), and I took a bag of the long stuff home, trying to puzzle out how I could prepare it in a way I hadn’t before. I don’t know how original my solution was, but I can assure you, it was delicious. This is best for a smaller group of people, so I’d suggest it if you’re feeding 1-3 people who love asparagus.
Pan-fried Asparagus Coins
1 bundle of asparagus (10-15 spears)
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste
Cut your spears into chunky coins, about 1/4-1/2 inch in length (any longer and they might not cook through). Roughly chop your onion and mince the garlic cloves. Heat half your butter in a large skillet, and when bubbling and just beginning to smell nutty, add your onions and garlic. Allow to soften for about a minute, then add in your asparagus coins and the remainder of the butter, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the coins to get sweet and soft and slightly browned by the butter, and for the onions to caramelize. When a coin can easily be pierced by a fork and the onions are a golden colour instead of white, remove to a large bowl and squeeze the lemon over the pieces.
You can serve as-is as a side dish, or mix in with rice to make a jazzed up pilaf. I ate mine mixed with white rice, leftover sausage, and a fried egg.