Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Asparagus is on its way

Fresh, Okanagan asparagus is on its way to the market and while there are many methods for cooking it, simple is best

My apologies to everyone searching for matzo meal since my Easter column. Matzo meal is made by finely grinding matzo crackers into a breadcrumb-like consistency. The most well known use for matzo meal is in matzo balls. Matzo crackers are available in local grocery stores.

Yesterday I heard from my friend in Maple Ridge who feasted on their first picking of fresh asparagus; can ours  be far behind? I think not.

Mmm, I love asparagus. You can steam them, boil them, roast them, add them to countless recipes, but I don’t think anything beats the flavour of asparagus when simply grilled. The smoky flavour, the char marks. Tender, but still with a little crunch. The first asparagus of the season needs to be enjoyed as close to naked as possible; perhaps add a little lemon, olive oil and salt. Yumm,  and when the season advances, use it in hundreds of other dishes. The most important lesson for asparagus is do not over cook it.

Grilled Asparagus

1 pound asparagus (estimate 1/4 pound per person), thick spears

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Sea or Kosher salt

Preheat your grill for high, direct heat.

Prepare the asparagus by washing well and breaking or cutting off any tough bottom ends (can save for stock, or discard).

Place the asparagus in a pan (to contain the spears while you put them on and take them off the grill). Coat them with olive oil and sprinkle salt over them. Grill the asparagus spears for 5-10 minutes, until nicely charred and just fork tender, turning them every few minutes so that they brown relatively evenly. Remove from grill and serve.

Asparagus Parmesan

1 tablespoon butter

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 slices finely chopped bacon

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound fresh asparagus spears, trimmed

1/2 cup fresh shaved (or grated) Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter with olive oil and bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes; add onion and garlic; stir well; cook until onion and garlic are beginning to soften. Add asparagus spears, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes, or to desired firmness.

Drain off excess oil, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Delicious.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.