Thursday, March 15, 2012

spring asparagus season!!

Why Eat Asparagus???

It is high in vitamins B6 and C, plus fiber, folate and glutathione, an anti-carcinogen and antioxidant, asparagus is an excellent nutritional choice. It comes in three colors: white, green or purple, although the green variety is the most common. Long considered a luxury vegetable, often with a luxury price tag, fresh American-grown asparagus appears in stores in late February. But asparagus is at its best—and is usually cheapest—in April and May. And sure, while there’s frozen and canned asparagus, which can be enjoyed year round, nothing beats the delicate flavor of fresh asparagus.

Choosing and Storing Asparagus...

Asparagus spears can be thick or thin. Some people prefer one kind over another but size is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Thicker spears may have tougher, woodier ends, but these are broken off before cooking anyway. The key is to select straight, firm, uniformly sized spears with closed tips. Since asparagus deteriorates rapidly, it’s important to select bundles that are refrigerated or on ice. For the same reason, asparagus should be used within two or three days of purchase, preferably sooner. If you do need to keep it for a day or two, the best way is to place the spears upright in a bowl (or even a small vase) of cold water. Alternatively, you can wrap the ends of the spears in a damp paper towel and refrigerate them.

What to Do With Asparagus...

To prepare asparagus, you will need to rinse the spears and break off the tough ends. After that, how you cook asparagus is up to you.
Soem people enjoy their asparagus with nothing more than a drizzle of good-quality olive oil, but you can enjoy asparagus in many different dishes: in soups, salads, stir-fries, risottos, scrambled eggs, pasta, and many more dishes.

Asparagus and Scallops

This scallops with asparagus recipe is a very simple and elegant dish. It’s only has a few ingredients, and it’s fast and easy to prepare. Scallops and asparagus are a terrific combination and the white wine butter sauce really brings them together.

1 lb medium asparagus, trimmed, cut in 1-inch pieces, tips left whole
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb large sea scallops, trimmed if necessary
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 tbsp cold salted sweet cream butter, cut into cubes

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté asparagus, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate, reserving skillet off heat (do not clean). Pat scallops dry and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté the scallops, turning over once, until browned and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Transfer scallops to another plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add wine and vinegar to skillet (mixture may spatter) and boil, scraping up any browned bits, until liquid is reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add any accumulated scallop juices on plate and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and whisk in butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Plate scallops and asparagus, spoon sauce over and serve immediately. Enjoy!!

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