This time of year is when asparagus tastes its best, so enjoy! That lovely, green, crunchy, sweet, flavourful vegetable is grown in Creston and sold locally at grocery stores and markets around our valley. We have about a three-week window here to enjoy it at its peak so stock up and start cooking!
Perfecting the art of cooking asparagus is easy with a bit of practice. When buying your asparagus, remember the longer the stem, the woodier the taste. The stems should be crispy and firm with no wrinkling or dry ends and have tight, closed tips. You can enjoy young asparagus raw tossed in a salad or enjoyed on a vegetable plate. When cooking, it’s all about the timing and remembering to never cover your pot of boiling water when cooking asparagus, or any green vegetables for that matter as that is what causes them to lose color and texture.
Asparagus is a perennial plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas. The name “asparagus” comes from the Greek language meaning “sprout” or “shoot” and it is a member of the lily family as are onions, garlic, leeks, turnips and gladioli. The ancient Greeks loved wild asparagus but it was the Romans who first cultivated it. It always interesting to find out where food comes from!
Enjoy the following recipe that is prefect for spring entertaining. Eggs and asparagus have a perfect marriage as they work perfectly together creating right texture, flavor and taste in this dish.
Sautéed Asparagus with Chorizo, Fried Eggs, and Smoked-Paprika Aioli Recipe
Serves 2 / Total Active Time: 15 minutes
INGREDIENTS For the Smoked Paprika Aioli:
· 1 egg· 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
· 1 teaspoon fresh juice from 1 lemon· 1 medium clove garlic, minced
· 1 teaspoon mild smoked paprika· 1/2 cup canola oil
· 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil· 4 ounces Spanish-style dry-cured chorizo, finely diced
· 3/4-pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
· 2 medium cloves garlic, finely sliced· 1/2 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar
· 2 eggs
1. For the Smoked Paprika Aioli: Combine egg, mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and smoked paprika in the bottom of a cup that just fits the head of a hand blender. Carefully pour in canola oil. Place head of blender in bottom of jar. Start blender and slowly pull it up through the mixture. A thick, creamy emulsion should form. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil and chorizo in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until chorizo is crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer chorizo and rendered fat to a small bowl. Return 2 teaspoons of fat to the skillet and heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add asparagus and cook, stirring and tossing, until bright green, about 1 minute. Add garlic and continue to cook until asparagus is tender and garlic is fragrant, about 45 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add vinegar and toss to coat. Transfer asparagus to serving plates.
3. Add remaining chorizo fat to skillet (there should be about 2 tablespoons) and heat over high heat until shimmering. Add eggs, season with salt and pepper, and cook, spooning the hot fat over the top of the eggs so they set rapidly. Continue to cook until whites are barely set and frizzled around the edges, but yolk is still runny. Top asparagus with fried eggs, chorizo bits, and chorizo fat. Serve with smoked paprika aioli.
Lara McCormack is one of the owners of From Scratch – A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs where one can savour great seasonal food, sip from a selection of beverages including BC wines and enjoy the views of our gorgeous valley landscape.