Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eat Your Veggies, Part 1

Stockton is probably the asparagus capital of the world; at least that is the rumor. It has also been the home of the Asparagus Festival for over 20 years now, drawing large flocks of asparagus lovers. Ok, they love to eat deep fried asparagus and drink aspara-ritas. And beer. I have worked as a volunteer several times as well as lay my money down as a paying guest. I hadn't gone in a while, but this year The Tubes, a crazy band from the 70's and 80's (think White Punks on Dope) were coming to the festival and I had to be there, with Paul and Bob and Rita as my sidekicks. The show was great and I totally skipped the deep fried asparagus, while unfortunately buying a completely tasteless gyro sandwich. Just how does that happen??? I mean the tasteless part.

I do like asparagus, although the steamed variety, even with mayo on the side, is pretty boring. I like my spears roasted or grilled, with olive oil and whatever seasoning sounds good to me at the time.

The weather hasn't gotten hot yet here so warming up the oven isn't a problem for me. A nice hot oven, say 450°, will do the trick. Snap off the hard fibrous ends of the spears and put the asparagus in a baking pan with olive oil and salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning. Bake for 7 minutes, then shake the pan to flip the asparagus around and then bake another 5 minutes
or so, checking for tenderness with the tip of a sharp knife. There will be caramelized spots. This works best for thick spears, not pencil thin ones, which cook much faster. If you use the thin ones, just check them sooner.

You can grill asparagus also, but lay them across the grates so they don't fall through. Skewering 3 or 4 or 5 together crosswise, then oiling and seasoning your asparagus before placing them on the grill works nicely. I like to grill over indirect high heat to avoid flameups. Just check the veg progress in a few minutes.

Now these are Spears that can enhance your life! Enjoy.

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