Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


What to eat with the Sunday papers. And my favourite asparagus salad, via Nice.

I picked up a steamed new season's spear, plunged it into the pesto, sour cream and yogurt mixture, then raised it to my mouth.

It snapped sweetly, making a faint 'snick'. Some food even sounds delicious.

Asparagus is in season.

Steaming aparagus and dipping it into your favourite sauce, dip, dressing or whatever is probably the ultimate way to enjoy it; even if it is sometimes a little indelicate.

For a late Sunday breakfast in summer, I sometimes steam asparagus and dress it with a light vinaigrette and serve it on oval plates alongside two or three very lightly poached eggs and barely toasted, buttered sourdough bread. You dip the asparagus spears into the egg and afterwards you mop up the egg remains with the barely toasted sourdough bread while idly searching the Sunday papers for something worth reading. Dip, dip, dip. Flick, flick, flick.

This year, to start the asparagus season, I made my favourite salad, a kind of hybrid nicoise salad.

First, I hauled out my large, white, flat, round salad platter from its winter resting place under the kitchen sink. It's too big to go anywhere else; unless I keep it in the shed or the boot of the car or under the bed or somewhere.

Around the edge of the platter: quartered boiled waxy potatoes alternating with quartered vine-ripened tomatoes. (If you can't find good tomatoes, leave them out. Waxy potatoes are good, waxy tomatoes are billiard balls.)

Inside the circle of potatoes and tomatoes: chopped cos.

Scattered about: large, black, fat home-pickled olives. A dozen or fifteen steamed round beans. A dozen or fifteen spears of asparagus, lightly steamed.

In the centre, on top of the cos: a one-inch thick tuna steak, seared on the outside and still just slightly pink in the middle. (Sear it in lemon and garlic and shower it with cracked black pepper towards the end.)

Around the tuna: six eggs, lightly poached. Or boiled (so that the yolk is still slightly runny) and quartered.

Scattered over everything: Capers. Anchovies. Parsley. Sea salt. More cracked black pepper.

Finally: Not genuine, but delicious - shavings of fine parmesan cheese.

If your construction skills are good, the salad should now resemble something like one of the pyramids. Take care pulling out an asparagus spear. The whole thing might come crashing down.

Asparagus fact: White asparagus are just green ones that grow under the ground or in the dark. Either that, or green ones are merely white ones exposed to the sun. You decide.


Marie said...

I do love asparagus....roasted, steamed, on it's own, in a stir fry, any which way I can get it! I have some in the fridge now and I think I shall cook it today!

kitchen hand said...

Marie, I enjoy it stir-fried as well, with a little oyster sauce. Enjoy.

Dr. Alice said...

KH, you mentioned home-pickled olives. Do you preserve your own? And, if so, have you posted about this and I missed it? I'd be very interested to read more about your technique, as my folks have an olive tree.