Monday, June 14, 2010

Variations on a Theme: Scapes & Asparagus, Part Deux

In my attempt to use up what I enthusiastically purchase from the Farmers' Market (not always recognizing that I am cooking for two--not a small army), I have started to devise multiple recipes that are "variations on a theme." Here the theme would be scapes and asparagus (asparagi?). For the second week in a row, I've come home with scapes and asparagus. Why?
  • Scapes have a very short season and they are good.
  • It is Spring and I can get local organic asparagus as opposed to asparagus that has been shipped from Peru (FAIL!)
  • scapes and asparagi have similar textures/consistencies so they cook well together

So, you may remember the Sautéed Asparagus and Garlic Scapes from my last blog post. This installment of Variations on a Theme brings you:

Chilled Asparagus & Scape Salad
  • one bunch fresh asparagus, with stalk ends trimmed
  • 1/8 - 1/4 lbs. garlic scapes, cut into one to two inch pieces
  • 3 tbls. olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup white cooking wine
  • 5 large fresh mint leaves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
Cooking Tools: large skillet/frying pan with cover; colander; glass container with lid

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. While it is heating throw some salt and pepper into the oil itself. When the oil is hot, add the asparagus and scapes.
2. Sautée the asparagus and scapes until they begin to turn bright green, making sure to coat them with the oil. Once they begin to turn bright green, add the wine, lower the heat to simmer, and cover, cooking for 5 more minutes.
3. Once the asparagus and shallots are uniformly bright green and just tender to the bite, transfer them to a colander and run them under cold water in the sink to stop the cooking process. (Overcooked asparagus is one of the biggest culinary travesties ever to befall the planet).
4. In a glass container with a cover (or use a large bowl), toss the asparagus with the mint, shallots and a dressing of your choice---I recommend:
  • Überminimalist: lemon juice/lime juice and olive oil
  • Traditionalist: balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • More fun and what I use: Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar and Olive oil (with additional salt and pepper)
5. Chill for an hour or more in the refrigerator and serve!

Note: If you want to skip steps 1-3 and blanch the asparagus instead, be my guest. It takes about the same amount of time to boil the water and prepare an ice bath, so I'd suggest the sautée method instead as it gives the asparagus far more flavor (and it picks up the garlickyness from the scapes). I've also never tried to blanch scapes, so you'll have to let me know how that goes. :)