I experimented with a couple of different recipes for this contest and quickly realized that cooking with alliums requires a delicate hand. They are quite intense raw, but cook them for too long and they lose their lovely vibrant flavor. But when I happened to find both local spring asparagus and green garlic this week, I wanted to use both ingredients to create a dish with vivid spring flavors. The green garlic here is not really cooked, just warmed in a bath of olive oil, so as not to mute its flavor. The breadcrumbs are inspired by Andrew Carmellini's Crumbs Yo in his marvelous cookbook, Urban Italian. These crumbs have become a pantry staple in my kitchen. Like Carmellini does, I toasted the bread in the oven, but I let it get beyond dry so that it was golden and crisp. After whizzing the bread in the food processor, I added the crumbs and some chopped almonds to the green garlic infused olive oil, letting everything toast further. The crowning touch was some crumbled hard boiled egg and some fresh herbs. I served it all over simply cooked asparagus, using the easy and foolproof method that Amanda wrote about here on food52 last year. The nuts and breadcrumbs add crunch, the garlic delivers a tiny bit of sharpness, and the egg brings a little bit of color and richness that perfectly compliments the tender succulent spears. Bring spring on! —cookinginvictoria
pieces crusty country bread (day-old is fine), cut into chunks
large organic egg
spears of asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks peeled, if necessary
plus 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
whole blanched almonds
green garlic, finely chopped into thin moon shapes
fresh tarragon, cut into thin julienned strips
fresh mint, cut into thin julienned strips
First make the breadcrumbs. Place pieces of bread on a baking sheet and put baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and toasty. Let bread cool slightly, then pulse in food processor until large crumbs have formed. Crumbs do not need to be uniform size. A mix of large and small breadcrumbs is fine. Set aside.
Next add the almonds to the food processor bowl. There is no need to wash the bowl first. Pulse the almonds about 10 times or until almonds are finely chopped. Be careful not to grind almonds too finely, or you will end up with almond meal. Set aside.
Cook the eggs: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over medium-low heat. When water is at a simmer, carefully lower two eggs into the pan. Let simmer for eight minutes, then remove eggs from water and rinse with cold water. When eggs have cooled, peel eggs and chop inito small pieces. Set aside.
Cook the asparagus: Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and 3/4 tablespooon olive oil to pan. When butter has melted, add asparagus to pan. Cook asparagus for about five minutes or so or until tender, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove from pan and put on serving plate.
Finishing the dish: Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil and green garlic to small skillet. Gently heat oil over low heat. When garlic starts to bubble, add 1/3 cup breadcrumbs to pan. Stir with wooden spoon and let toast for about two minutes. Add almonds and toast for another minute or so or until mixture smells fragrantly nutty and garlicky. Remove from heat. Spoon garlic-breadcrumb-almond mixture on top of asparagus, being sure to spoon some of the olive oil onto the asparagus. Add chopped egg and a shower of herbs on top. Serve with some crusty bread to sop up some of the leftover crumbs and garlic infused oil. Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine!
In 2009, after living more than twenty years in NYC, my husband, young daughter and I packed up our lives and embarked on a grand adventure, moving to Victoria, B.C. There are many things that we miss about New York (among them ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh ravioli and New York bagels), but, I have to admit, that living in the Pacific Northwest has been pretty amazing food-wise. Now we have a yard with plum and apple trees, a raspberry and strawberry patch and a Concord grape arbor. I have a vegetable and herb garden, so I can grow at least some of our food. And we have an amazing farmer's market a block from our house.
I love cooking (and eating) seasonally and locally. And it's been very rewarding introducing my daughter to cooking and eating, and teaching her where our food comes from.