Ah, the thrill of it!
The time of spring asparagus is here, heralding the arrival of warmer weather, hinting at all the culinary glories of late spring and summer to come.
Displays of Jersey Fresh asparagus and new potatoes in area markets and farm stands over the weekend warmed my heart more than the weather did and I bought several bundles of both to use in as many different ways as possible.
On a visit to England many, many years ago, I discovered that the Brits treasure asparagus as much as we Yanks and often use it in dinner salads. Memories of such salads came swimming back this year and a search of the Internet revealed that in Britain this spring, chefs are preparing such salads a plenty.
I’ve adapted two recipes for American kitchens which are a pure delight. Both feature asparagus and new potatoes, neither require very much effort at all and my-oh-my, are they tasty treats.
Ingredients — 1 pound fresh asparagus, 1 pound new potatoes (I used new white potatoes), cut into halves or quarters depending on size. Dressing: juice of one lemon, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon honey, 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, sea salt and fresh, ground pepper to taste.
Directions — Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked but still firm, then drain. Clean and trim the asparagus down to the tips (save the stalks for soup) and steam or boil until bright green and slightly firm. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together in a bowl, adjust seasonings and toss gently with asparagus and potatoes before serving. This can be enjoyed warm right off the stove or room temperature.
Asparagus & New Potatoes with Feta Cheese
Ingredients — 1 pound asparagus, juice of one lemon, 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and fresh, ground peppper, 1 pound small new, white potatoes, 8 ounces cherry tomatoes cut in half, 12 pitted black olives, cut in half, 2 shallots finely chopped, 6 shredded basil leaves, 6 ounces crumbled Feta cheese.
Directions — boil the new potatoes until cooked but still firm, cut them into quarters and toss them in a bit of olive oil, set aside. Meanwhile, clean the asparagus and trim the white ends, in boiling, salted water, cook the asparagus for 1-3 minutes until just tender and bright green, drain and immerse in cold water to prevent it from cooking further. In a bowl, mix the lemon juice and olive oil together with the sea salt and black pepper. Add the boiled potatoes, tomatoes, olives, shallots and basil together, toss and adjust seasonings. Arrange the asparagus on a large platter or individual serving plates, spoon the potato mixture over the asparagus and garnish with crumbled cheese.