The Dawning of the Age of Asparagus

March 28, 2013Leave a comment

It’s difficult to be patient. More than ever, we know what we want and we want it now. Right now! I’m not just talking about the children. Thanks to technology, there is little we must wait for. Need new shoes? They’ll be at your door tomorrow with a few clicks. Want to hear that catchy song you keep humming? Bam. For $1.29 it can be yours to play in an endless loop. No more going to stores. No more taping hours of bad radio programming hoping to catch the song of the moment (you know you used to do it too!).
We don’t even have to wait for the change of seasons anymore to get the treasured foods of spring. I’m seeing asparagus and rhubarb in the grocery store, though I know it’s not actually in season yet here. It’s in season somewhere. Probably Chile. And so are nectarines and watermelon and all sorts of other things for which we used to have to wait. I don’t have to wait for tulips to bloom either. I can just buy a bunch and admire them from the comfort of my dining room table while watching the completely-out-of-nowhere snow blow around outside.
I will admit to having picked up a bunch of asparagus this week. I knew I should wait for the farmer’s market. I knew it would taste better later. But you know what? It is spring, friends. At least that’s what the calendar says. We are a week in and yet, the air is still far too chilly for my liking and the flurries earlier this week pushed me to my limits. So I consoled myself with some well-traveled asparagus. It was okay. Just okay. I’ll have to wait for the real deal once Mother Nature catches up on her texts: “u r L8 4 spring! we r w8ing…”

And when she gets her head out of the nimbostratus clouds and stops listening to “Thrift Shop” on repeat…this early spring asparagus pasta is what I’m going to make. I wrote a post a while back for Whole Foods Market Cooking on pasta basics, using this recipe as an example. You can see the full post here, but if you are lazy (not to mention impatient…there’s that word again, dammit) and don’t want to click the link I’ll give you a Cliff’s Notes version here:
1. Salt the water. No, I mean really salt it. Don’t fret about the sodium. You won’t be ingesting all that salt. Remember, it’s going into the water to flavor the pasta…then most of it’s going down the drain (which leads to me to the next point). 

2. Don’t forget to scoop up some of that starchy cooking water before you drain it. I say this in just about every pasta recipe I write and I’m saying it again because it’s worth repeating again and again and again. Case in point here, and here, and here…find a way to remember to do this. 
3. Use tongs! This is the best way to serve long pasta so you can get all the components at once. 

4. Never underestimate the power of a well-chosen garnish. I like a finishing touch that packs some punch – finely sliced fresh herbs (rub between your palms first to release flavor), shreds of pungent cheese, sometimes a few toasted nuts. Use garnishes to add flavor, not just aesthetics. 
Since spring hasn’t landed here, I’m going to go find it elsewhere. The flip flops I ordered last night just arrived, so I’m all set. Be back soon, my friends. Until then, be well. 

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