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4 Delicious Ways To Eat Asparagus This Spring05:50Download

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Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst has been taking advantage of the abundance of asparagus that's in season and in the market. She brings Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson recipes and dishes including steamed asparagus with fried eggs, asparagus and lemon risotto and an asparagus tart with goat cheese.


Steamed Asparagus With Fried Eggs, Brown Butter And A Dill-Lemon Sauce

Asparagus topped with chopped hard-boiled egg is a traditional dish. But in this dish, I twist tradition slightly — serving steamed asparagus topped with fried eggs in brown butter, toasted nuts and a dill-lemon sauce.

This can be served as a main course, alongside crusty bread and a nice green salad. Serves 2 to 3.

Kathy 's steamed asparagus with fried eggs, brown butter and a dill-lemon sauce. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Kathy 's steamed asparagus with fried eggs, brown butter and a dill-lemon sauce. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh-chopped dill or chives
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped)

Instructions

  1. Place the asparagus in a medium-size skillet and cover with boiling water. Cook over high heat until almost tender, about six to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness.
  2. Meanwhile, a few minutes before the asparagus are done, heat the butter in a medium skillet over moderately high heat and cook until it turns a pale golden brown. Carefully crack the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook for about two minutes; gently flip over and cook another minute on the other side.
  3. Drain the asparagus thoroughly and place on a serving plate. Top with 1 tablespoon of the dill and place the fried eggs on top. Drizzle with the butter from the skillet. Add the lemon juice on top and then the oil, salt and pepper, and finally, the chopped nuts.
Kathy's asparagus risotto. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Kathy's asparagus risotto. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Spring Asparagus And Lemon Risotto

This is a light risotto that uses asparagus in three different ways: the tough end pieces (that usually get thrown out) are simmered into the stock to infuse it with an asparagus flavor. The middle section of the asparagus is cooked directly into the risotto and the tender tips are added raw to the top of the dish just before serving.

Grated lemon zest, fresh dill, leeks and spring garlic add an extra dimension. Serves 2 (as a main course) and 4 as a side.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 leek
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or 1 bulb spring garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Trim the tough ends off the asparagus and place in a medium saucepan. Add the stock.
  2. Cut the leek down the middle, wash and dry. Cut the dark green section off and add to the pot with the stock. Bring the stock (with the asparagus ends and leek trimmings) to a simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
  3. Thinly chop the remaining white and pale-green section of the leek. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, reserving the very ends, the fragile tips; set aside.
  4. In a medium pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the leek pieces, half the dill, half the lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add the pieces of asparagus — but not the tips — and cook two minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Raise the heat to high and add the wine; stir and let cook for two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.
  5. Strain the stock and add the warm stock to the rice one cup at a time, stirring frequently. After you've added 3 cups of stock the rice should start to taste cooked; it should not be soft and mushy, but will still have a bite. Add more stock if needed. Once the rice is almost soft and has absorbed almost all the water, remove the heat. Add half the cheese (1/2 cup if you love a cheesy risotto, and 1/4 cup if you want it a little less rich) and stir. Add the remaining dill and lemon zest and stir; taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
  6. To serve, place the risotto in the center of a bowl and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, along with the raw reserved asparagus tips. Serve hot.
Kathy's asparagus tart. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Kathy's asparagus tart. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Asparagus Tart With Goat Cheese

Store-bought puff pastry is so easy to work with, and provides such good results. This rich, buttery pastry is encased with roasted asparagus, goat cheese and a chive-flavored egg mixture. Makes a great lunch or dinner. Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • One 14-ounce box frozen puff pastry
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Trim the ends off the asparagus. Place the asparagus in a small gratin dish or roasting pan and drizzle on the oil, salt and pepper and toss. Roast on the middle shelf for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus, until they are almost soft but not thoroughly soft or limp. Remove and cool.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
  4. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the pastry and cut into 4 equal pieces, roughly 12-inches long by 6-inches wide.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the goat cheese, eggs, chives, salt and pepper.
  6. Place one piece of the pastry on a cookie sheet. Divide the asparagus and add one-fourth to the center of the pastry. Spoon one-fourth of the egg-goat cheese mixture on top. Fold the side of the pastry up from the bottom and fold the sides in on the filling, making sure to leave at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches of the asparagus exposed (see photo). Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.
  7. Place the pastry on the middle shelf and bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, or until the pastry is well puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Asparagus And Leek Soup With Poached Egg

From "Soup Swap" (Chronicle Books), by Kathy Gunst

Makes 8 to 10 tasting portions, or 8 full servings.

Every part of the asparagus is used in a different way to create this spring soup. The tough root ends (which are normally discarded) are simmered with the stock to infuse it with an asparagus flavor. The tender middle section is used to make the "body" of the soup, and the prized delicate tips are sautéed and added to the soup as a garnish.

The soup is excellent on its own, but if you want to add a little more pizzazz, poach some eggs, add one to the center of each bowl of hot soup and then sprinkle with the sautéed asparagus and scallions. Cutting into the egg and releasing its bright yellow yolk into the green soup produces a dramatic visual effect as well as extra-rich flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds of asparagus
  • 1 large leek
  • 7 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 scallions, trimmed, white and green sections very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 egg per serving, preferably organic

Instructions

  1. Cut about 2 inches off the tough root ends of each asparagus spear; reserve the remaining asparagus. Trim off the dark green section of the leek and coarsely chop. Halve the pale green and white section lengthwise, rinse under cold running water, and pat dry; reserve.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the tough asparagus ends and the dark green leek pieces. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the tips off the top of the remaining asparagus spears and set aside. Cut the middle sections crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Cut the pale green and white section of the leek crosswise into thin pieces.
  4. In a large stockpot over low heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the remaining leek pieces and the chives, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus pieces from the middle of the stalks and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn the heat to high, add the wine and bring to a boil.
  5. Strain the stock from the medium saucepan into the large stockpot (discarding the tough asparagus stems and dark green leek pieces) and return to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for about five minutes.
  6. Using a food processor or blender and working in batches or using a handheld immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  7. In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallions and cook for four minutes, or until they begin to turn a rich golden brown. Add the asparagus tips and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for about five minutes (or for just two minutes if reheating later or at the party), or until the asparagus tips are almost tender.
  8. Bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Crack the eggs into the pot, one at a time, and simmer for three minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the eggs, one at a time, to paper towels to drain. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter or a small sharp knife, cut around each egg white to create a small, perfect circle with just a bit of white.
  9. Ladle the soup into mugs or bowls and, using a flat spatula, carefully place a poached egg in the center of each. Sprinkle with some asparagus-tip topping around the egg, avoiding the yolk, and serve.

This segment aired on May 18, 2017.

More From Our Resident Chef:

Kathy Gunst Twitter Here & Now Resident Chef
Resident chef Kathy Gunst is a 2015 James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.

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