Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever -- or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples every which way.
Today: Rivka Friedman of Not Derby Pie makes dinner out of her spring obsession.
Some people really can’t control themselves when stuck in a room with a plateful of cookies. Don’t get me wrong – I am that girl – but I also have a serious problem with asparagus. Let's just say that from late April through early June, you won’t find me without the green spears. I certainly don’t skip rhubarb, ramps, spring onions, or those early shelling peas -- but I’m hopelessly addicted to asparagus, and I pretty much can’t get through the day without a bunch.
I’ll admit that I see asparagus as a complete meal. But sometimes, there are other people around -- people who won’t be impressed by an “Asparagus: It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign. So if you blanch a few big bunches at the beginning of the week and then store them in the fridge, you’ll be surprised by how quickly a full meal comes together.
Asparagus and Tarragon Tart
Nothing says spring like this tart. Nigel Slater has a lovely recipe for an asparagus and tarragon tart in his book Tender that’s just the thing for warmer weather. He casually instructs you to blind-bake your crust and season your custard; you know how to do both these things, of course. And because you’re so skilled and relaxed in the kitchen, your guests won’t be the least bit surprised when you offer them this sophisticated tart. (Note to the economical among us: reheated leftovers make for great lunch the next day.) Get the full recipe here.
Cold Asparagus Yogurt Soup
Give me your tired, woody asparagus, and I will give you an excellent soup. If you live in an area where good asparagus haven’t yet arrived, this recipe will tide you over until the best ones become available. Like most of my favorite soups to cook at home, this one requires no broth, gets made in one pot, and keeps in a jar in the fridge for about a week. Oh, and it can be eaten hot or cold. Convinced? Get the recipe below.
Broiled Asparagus with Sesame Oil and Salt
I told you that I consider asparagus to be a complete meal, so I’m putting my money where my mouth is. This recipe is barely a recipe: toss a bunch of asparagus with a couple tablespoons of sesame oil and some good, flaky salt, and cook them on the grill (or under a broiler) until they’re blackened in areas and cooked through, about 5 minutes on a 400° F grill. If you’d like, squeeze half a lemon over the asparagus just before serving. They are, even for those not hooked on asparagus, absolutely addictive.
Asparagus-Sweet Potato Hash
I love adding asparagus to potato hash and topping it all with a fried egg. Last week, fresh out of potatoes, I substituted sweet potatoes and wound up with a sweeter, softer hash. The trick here is to put the potatoes in the pan and quickly forget them; that’s how they develop their brown, crusty exterior. Start with 2 potatoes or sweet potatoes. When they’re about 3 minutes from done, add half a bunch of asparagus, diced, and a couple ramps or a spring onion. Toss just to combine -- you don’t want to break up those sweet potatoes -- and top with a fried egg. Heaven.
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into pieces
3/4 cups chopped onion
2 leeks, rinsed thoroughly and chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 cups water
1/2 cup yogurt, plus more for serving
Salt and pepper, to taste
Photos by Rivka Friedman