Lemonized Asparagus Hummus

I used to think asparagus was disgusting. Slimy and stinky, usually served with cheez sauce (okay, probably real cheese but it looked a lot like cheez-whiz)- that was the asparagus of my childhood. My niece used to eat it straight from the can which might be the only thing more disgusting than covered in bright yellow sauce after being boiled to death.

Sometime in the last 5 or so years, I changed my tune. I believe this reversal occurred in a restaurant where I was served some asparagus dish, roasted perhaps, that I chose to eat because I was that hungry. A fortuitous hunger as it turned out to be unlike any previous exposure- it was tasty! Not slimy! And definitely not covered with cheesy sauce.

I do, however, carry the gene that causes an odor to be found after consuming asparagus. In an odd sort of way, I am intrigued by the phenomenon because it happens within a short time of eating, far quicker than a full digestion would take. Fortunately my husband doesn’t seem particularly sensitive to it because he’s a stinky boy as it is (kiss kiss honey, love you!!!). On a marginally related note, I am very glad I don’t have the genetic abnormality that makes cilantro taste like soap. Because if I didn’t cook with and eat cilantro, I am not sure Chris would have married me!

At the height of spring asparagus season, we’ve been eating a lot of roasted spears and occasionally steamed ones. I especially like to toss barely steamed asparagus tips with top-notch Parmesan cheese, fresh cracked pepper, good extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Last week, I saw this recipe on a food blog I rather enjoy and decided to make it at my first opportunity. Then Chris came home with the biggest bunch of asparagus I’ve ever seen- a good 8 inch diameter bundle.

Despite the overflow of asparagus, I still halved the recipe because Chris, while liking asparagus, claims to strongly dislike hummus. I do not entirely believe him but nonetheless, even half a recipe makes a whole lotta hummus.

The recipe, by way of Tammy @ Food on the Food* is actually found here at Yankee Magazine along with a recipe for pita chips to accompany.

Lemonized Asparagus Hummus

What I used

1 1/2 cup fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 7 1/2 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well (small cans found at Meijer!)
1 medium clove garlic
1 Tbsp. tahini, sesame paste
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half-lemon plus a bit more
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil + 1 Tbsp
salt & pepper

What I did

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Toss asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil and roast 15 minutes. Some spots of caramelization shoudl be apparent but the spears are still bright green.

3. Combine asparagus (set aside a number of tips for prettying up the bowl if you want to take a picture), chickpeas, tahini, 1/2 lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, a pinch of salt and couple grinds of pepper in a food processor**, puree until fairly smooth

4. Add olive oil, preferably slowly while food processor is running but that’s not required.

5. Taste and adjust salt/pepper and lemon zest to taste.

For best results, refrigerate one hour or longer to allow flavors to meld. To serve all pretty, top with a few asparagus tips and any remaining lemon zest. Eat with pita, veggies or um, you might just try a fingerful straight up. I don’t recommend this if you are sharing or presenting this as a party dip. Also, spread on a flatbread, combine with fresh tomatoes and cukes, maybe some falafel and call it lunch.


*I do like the Food on the Food blog but I struggle with feeling of envy when I read about the CSA and the Fish CSA and the whole living on the Eastern Seaboard thing. Its the kind of trigger that makes me nostalgic for our honeymoon in Vermont and sometimes leads me to check off states like Massachusetts, Maine and the like when I look at job postings (and I’m not even looking for a new job here!)

**I initially tried this in our blender. A very nice blender it is but not suited to blending this thick, relatively dry mixture. We have one of those $20 single speed food choppers rather than a nice fo-pro but it did the job, albeit at a slowish rate.

Meat and potatoes

Spring has sprung. And with spring comes after-work time spent lounging in the yard and grilling. Yesterday, I stayed in the yard listening to the loudest frogs ever, in our pond, until the mosquitoes came out. Overcast today so less time lounging but we still grilled.

Chris was in charge of that- he grilled a hunk o’ meat from Whole Foods (technically speaking it was a NY strip) which had been seasoned with salt, pepper and the ubiquitous maple sugar garlic pepper.

I was in charge of sides.

1. Fingerling potatoes with caramelized onions

2. Steamed asparagus with lemon and mustard sauce

Potatoes & Asparagus with mustardy-mayo

Ingredients

4-5 medium fingerlings, sliced in rounds
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
maple sugar garlic pepper
salt

asparagus, trimmed of thick ends
lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 pinches of onion powder

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a large pan. Add onions, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions begin to brown and crisp up on the sides.

While onions are browning, put potatoes in boiling water. Cook until just tender. Remove from water, drain. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil and 1/2 tablespoon butter to saute pan. Add potatoes, laying rounds flat so they can get crispy.

Meanwhile, add asparagus in a steamer insert to the pot of boiling water. Cook until greened up and cooked through- about 5 minutes for the thick stems we had tonight.

Combine 1 tablespoon mayo with 1 tablespoon smooth dijon mustard and the 2 teaspoons onion powder. Divide in to two cute serving cups (or dollop on the plate).

Garnish asparagus with freshly ground pepper and lemon juice. Serve with potatoes and onions and the grilled hunk o’ meat of your choice.

A Complete Meal


The frogs are so loud, we have the TV volume at least 3 ticks higher.


Artsy shot

Making it up as I go along, part deux

Now this, I really did just make up as I went along. I had to make a dish to pass for Thursday’s holiday luncheon at work. I planned to make something like the squash risotto but then I just did not feel like doing all the stirring required. And cutting up a hard, awkwardly shaped squash.

On our sign-up sheet I had marked “casserole” and US/Italy as the country (this year’s theme was international). A little departure from that but I definitely think I got the US of A part down!

All American Rice Casserole

Ingredients

1/2 bunch asparagus
1 small red onion
1 can creamed corn
5-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Gouda cheese
brown rice (2 cups dry)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
chicken broth
nutmeg
sage
salt/pepper
1 mashed clove of garlic

Directions

  • I cooked the rice in the rice cooker first. Took about 40 minutes for 2 dried cups of short grain brown rice. I let that work its magic while we ate dinner (see Part 1). When ready, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Trim asparagus, set tips aside then cut stems in to 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Quarter the red onion then slice thinly.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds then add red onion. Sprinkle a little salt on the onions to encourage the water to come out.
  • Season onions with 1 teaspoon dried sage and 1/4 tsp nutmeg (I grated part of a whole nutmeg using a microplane grater). Reduce heat to medium-low and allow onions to soften and begin caramelizing.
  • Meanwhile, spread cooked brown rice in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Unless the rice is very moist, pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable) over it. Sprinkle generously with grated Gouda cheese. Spread 1 can of creamed corn over the rice and cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon dried sage and a dash or two of nutmeg.
  • When onions have just started to brown, add sliced asparagus stems to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes until asparagus turns bright green.
  • Spread onion-asparagus mixture over corn in casserole dish.  Cover completely with grated Gouda; get right up the the edge of the casserole dish.
  • Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove covering and raise temperature to 475 or turn on broiler. Scatter tomato halves, asparagus tips and sliced (or slivered) almonds over top of casserole. Cook 10 minutes more until almonds begin to turn light brown. I did this under the broiler, about 8-10 inches from the element. Closer in, I would say 5 minutes or less- watch for burning!
asparagus corn casserole
asparagus corn casserole

 


Since I really did just make this up as a I went along, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Then I was late getting in the buffet line today and wondered if I’d get to try out my own dish! But I did. It was about 1/2 gone (and completely gone by the time the serving was over). I’m pleased but I would say that this dish is best served hot from the oven with the cheese bubbling. Being reheated and held in the oven dries out the rice.

Making it up as I go along, Part 1

Earlier tonight, I updated my Facebook status to the title of this post. I was actually refering to the dish I’m making for a holiday luncheon tomorrow. Turns out, I would also be referring to tonight’s dinner.

We have chicken and asparagus in the fridge and enough grain products to last till 2011 in our pantry. I was thinking of an almond-crusted chicken breast (baked) with some Asian-inspired treatment for the asparagus with rice for dinner tonight.

Then Chris took forever coming home from Kroger. He went to buy lunch meat. He finally got home after 7, with no lunch meat but with a rotisserie chicken. So, no almond-crusted chicken and I decided to use the rice cooker for the holiday luncheon dish.

This left me with asparagus and in need of a starch. I looked around and realized we have 2 bags of potatoes to use up. We will be leaving for the holidays on 12/19 (sunny, warm, lovely Florida!) and I’m trying to get rid of anything perishable. Okay: new game plan! And make it quick.

Lemon Scented Potatoes with Asparagus

Potatoes Asparagus

Ingredients

3-5 fingerling potatoes
1/2 bunch asparagus, medium thickness
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
garlic-infused olive oil
lemon juice
salt & pepper
fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

  • Cover potatoes with one inch of water in a pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a high simmer, cook 10 minutes until fork-tender.
  • Wash & trim asparagus. Cut on the bias, in thirds.
  • In a small bowl, lightly wisk 1/4 cup oil with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1/8 cup finely grated Parmesan.
  • When potatoes are cooked, remove from water and let cool slightly.
  • Turn heat back up on water and return to a boil.
  • Add asparagus to boiling water. Cook 2 minutes then drain.
  • While asparagus are cooking, roughly slice potatoes.
  • Toss potatoes and asparagus in serving dish with dressing.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, salt & pepper and more Parmesan cheese.

Notes: This was quick, 15 minutes start to finish. Easy to multiply for more servings. As described, this would serve 4.

I used my brand new ribbon grater for the garnish cheese. Its awesome.

A second photo, mostly to put some focus on the awesome dish I put this in. This is part of a set of baking casserole dishes I bought “for” Chris last year for Christmas. He likes them but he usually likes whatever food I put in them more.

asparagus potato dish