5 Ingredients or Fewer

Landmark Asparagus, or How I Learned to Love Green Vegetables

May 11, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Serves 4 as a side dish
Author Notes

I used to hate green vegetables. Nearly every night featured some kind of pitched battle between the Kid and Peas. Or the Kid and Green Beans. Or Broccoli. And let's not even talk about Spinach. Looking back, I realize the reason for that was that my family used to boil everything to death. And then mash it. Usually with margarine. About the only green vegetable I would eat were lima beans, primarily to annoy my mother, who despised them. Anyway, one evening she came home with a recipe for asparagus given to her by the nice lady around the corner who went to the same hairdresser. Vegetables and I have gotten along famously ever since. To the best of my recollection (with a garnish or two added) here's that landmark recipe. —wssmom

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, woody ends snapped off, reserving two tips for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced red bell pepper
  1. Drop the asparagus into a pan of rapidly boiling salted water and cook for four minutes, or until crisp-tender. or tender-crisp. Remove and let dry on a rack over a layer of paper towels. Come to think of it, you could probably just dry them on the paper towels.
  2. While the asparagus is cooking, put the butter in a small pan, turn up the heat and let it get really brown, almost black.
  3. While the butter is browning, mince the two reserved tips of the asparagus and set aside with the minced red bell pepper.
  4. Put the asparagus in a serving dish, pour the browned butter over it, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, strew the egg artfully about, garnish with the minced asparagus and red bell pepper and serve forth.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sagegreen
  • lapadia
  • mrslarkin
  • drbabs
  • TiggyBee

26 Reviews

Sagegreen May 15, 2011
Great story. Love your recipe. I am the sole lover of lima beans in my family btw.
wssmom May 15, 2011
Great minds think alike!
lapadia May 11, 2011
Love asparagus cooked any way as long as it is not boiled to death...I can totally relate to your story!
boulangere May 11, 2011
Green beans, peas, asparagus, remember that overcooked, army green color? Love your new photo, lapadia!
lapadia May 11, 2011
Last year's chives gone to flower...from my patio.
wssmom May 11, 2011
Oh, my last year's chives are gorgeous, too!!!
mrslarkin May 11, 2011
Sounds lovely! Your recipe writing rocks, wssmom! This brings back memories...my house had the big tubs of margarine - the greatest thing since sliced Wonderbread - and the big block of Velveeta.... :)
wssmom May 11, 2011
OMG Velveeta! I haven't thought about Velveeta in a looooooong time! Hahahaha, thanks for reminding me!
drbabs May 11, 2011
Isn't everything better with browned butter? When I was growing up, margarine was practically a food group. My mother still thinks it's healthier than butter...go figure.
wssmom May 11, 2011
I could easily pour browned butter over everything, except maybe salami. Or salsa.
TiggyBee May 11, 2011
You are funny!! - Love this!!
wssmom May 11, 2011
Thanks, Tiggybee!!
boulangere May 11, 2011
This is skating very close to a Recipe You Want to be Remembered For!
wssmom May 11, 2011
It certainly was a game-changer!!
hardlikearmour May 11, 2011
Love your story, and the browned butter.
wssmom May 11, 2011
Thanks, HLA!!
Midge May 11, 2011
Hilarious. I was right there with you all. And margarine, how could our moms have gone for that stuff?
wssmom May 11, 2011
My mom swears that during WWII, when butter was rationed, they sold white oleo with a little packet of dried yellow food coloring that they used to mix in to make it look like butter .... eeesh!
boulangere May 11, 2011
My mother used to tell the same story. I think I remember her explaining that it was called Oleo, because until the color could be added, it couldn't technically be called margarine. Imagine splitting hairs over that.
wssmom May 11, 2011
Did you know that margarine is the only commonly-used word in the English language that has a soft "g" sound without the letter being followed by E, I, or Y? Just passing it on.... :)
boulangere May 11, 2011
Note to self.
TiggyBee May 11, 2011
Soft *g* in margarine, there's a new sheriff in town. Goes by the name Ginormous! :)
inpatskitchen May 11, 2011
I'm with you wssmom....my Mom used to open up cans...Canned asparagus? Yuch!! This is beautiful!
wssmom May 11, 2011
And who could ever forget Veg-all? Lol!
boulangere May 11, 2011
Oooh, love the colors. And the Parm. Most of all your story. Margarine! I swear we were weaned on it.
wssmom May 11, 2011
The best thing about spring is that you can get great asparagus even in your local supermarket!