You should be ashamed of yourself. I saw you eyeing the pasta on that Olive Garden commercial with hungry eyes. You know it’s not delicious. You know it wasn’t actually created in a Tuscan cooking school with Michelin star winning chefs. Most importantly, you know you can’t trust any place that thinks variety in ingredients is a simple choice between chicken in cream sauce or sausage in tomato cream sauce. For shame, OG, for shame! Continue reading Pasta with Camembert, Asparagus and Peas
The quest for the fall back side has one more contender in the running – this simple preparation of asparagus with a delicious italian condiment of the brightest flavor and texture is an absolute gem. Even better than how it tastes is the work involved, or should I say lack thereof. This is probably the simplest and most elegant side that you can put together, and should absolutely become a go-to recipe in your kitchen.
Gremolata is a lovely mixture of finely chopped parley, garlic and lemon. It is most commonly used as a topping for osso buco (braised veal shanks) and other slow-cooked meat dishes that benefit from a lightening of flavor to round things out. The key to gremolata is prepping it as you need it and using the freshest ingredients. A simple toss with some asparagus and olive oil, this gremolata will bring the tender spears to a whole new level.
Gremolata is absolutely versatile – if you’re not a fan of asparagus, try it atop simple roasted string beans or tomatoes. It also serves as a simple stir-in for minestrone and other savory soups. Be creative and definitely take advantage of the fact that gremolata will give your one-note dishes a huge kick in the pants. In a good way.
Asparagus with Gremolata
1 lb. of asparagus, rinsed and trimmed of tough ends
1 cl. of garlic, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1 c. of loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/8 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
2 tbs. of olive oil
Place asparagus in a shallow pan and fill with water to barely cover asparagus. Heavily salt the water and bring water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil and the asparagus spears turn a bright green, remove them from the water and place them in a serving dish.
In a small bowl, mix the parsley, lemon zest, pepper, a small pinch of kosher salt and olive oil. Pour over the hot asparagus spears and toss. Serve.
I’m constantly on the search for easy, inspiring side dishes. When you are making use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, it’s easy to avoid reaching for the bag of frozen corn as a quick accompaniment to your main course. That being said, I get extremely lazy sometimes. To the point where I don’t even want to boil a pot of water for anything or anyone. When I get a case of the doldrums and asparagus is in season, this is my answer to the big question of “What the hell am I going to eat with this?”
For you folks that don’t dig asparagus (like my hubby and sis for starters), you can use this exact same preparation to cook string beans and haricots verts. And also cherry tomatoes on the vine. All of which are gorgeous and couldn’t be simpler. There you go – 3 options for those days that you couldn’t possibly peel yourself off the couch to make anything involved.
Simple Roasted Asparagus
1 lb. of asparagus
1/4 c. of olive oil
2 pinches of kosher salt
1 pinch of black pepper
Preheat oven to 450°. Snap ends off asparagus spears (and save for stock for Cream of Asparagus Soup). Toss asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper and spread out evenly over a flat baking sheet. Bake in the oven until crisp and tender (I know, an oxymoron) – about 10 minutes for thin asparagus (cigarette size) and 17 minutes for thick asparagus (cigar-sized).
If you want to brighten things up for the summertime, mix 2 tbs. of lemon zest and two tbs. of chopped parsley to make a gremolata. Top asparagus with the mixture and serve.