Our first batch of asparagus from the garden this year.
Asparagus is one of my absolute favorite vegetables and I look forward every year to spring, when we get to enjoy them fresh out of the garden once again! My favorite way to eat them is simply, often roasted or steamed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Growing up, I always dipped them in mayonnaise (which I don’t hesitate to admit, I still enjoy!) but now that I’m older I tend to like to try new ways to enjoy them.
This year, I discovered Mollie Katzen’s book The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without, and immediately fell in love. I’m constantly on the look out for new ways to cook vegetables and this cookbook is a stunner and full of inspiration. This gingered asparagus “salad” is one that I enjoy accompanying a lovely grilled “Hawaiian-style” chicken thigh and wild rice.
Flavoring vinegar with ginger creates major kitchen incense! This is a wonderful way to enjoy asparagus as either a salad or a side dish.(The definitions happily blur.)
- You can prepare the vinegar (step 1) well ahead of time. It can sit, covered, up to 2 days at room temperature and will only get better. Meanwhile, the asparagus can marinate deeply in the garlic spiked oil (step 3)
- Assemble the finished dish at the last minute, so the acid from the vinegar won’t discolor the asparagus.
3/4 cup cider vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons light-colored honey
1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed
1/2 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
2 Tablespoons Chinese-style dark sesame oil
3 Tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (possibly more, to taste)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Place the vinegar and ginger in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the vinegar is reduced by about half. (Open the windows!) Remove from the heat and stir in the honey. Set aside.
Steam the asparagus until just tender (not too soft). Refresh under cold running water immediately and drain well. Dry thoroughly with paper towel and transfer to a platter or a plate with a rim, arranging the asparagus in a single layer.
Whisk together the garlic, oils, salt and soy sauce in a small bowl. Pour this mixture over the asparagus, then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Shortly before serving, spoon the vinegar mixture over the asparagus, distributing it as evenly as possible. (Definitely include all those little bits of ginger!) Serve chilled or at room temperature.