It’s May, and that’s means that it’s asparagus season in Washington. Our state produces about 40% of the asparagus grown in the US, according to the Washington Asparagus Commission, and we recently started receiving beautiful organic asparagus at the Co-op. This is a vegetable that is best enjoyed in season – it’s at its least expensive price and most delicious flavor. In honor of that, I picked a recipe to sample with customers this week that is both easy and tasty – Zesty Marinated Asparagus.
Marinated asparagus is incredibly easy to make. Simply rinse your asparagus, chop into bite-sized chunks, and blanch in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes – just until it turns a vibrant green. Immediately plunge the spears into ice-cold water to stop the cooking process, and mix with marinade in a zip-top bag or leak-proof container. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and you have a delicious snack or side dish that tastes complex but is simple (and quick) to prepare.
I chose to marinate my asparagus overnight in a balsamic vinaigrette – this dressing is also easy to make so it doesn’t add much prep time to the recipe (although you can always use a bottled dressing in a pinch). Customers really enjoyed the dish – they said it was indeed zesty, had a nice crunch from the blanching, and had a nice flavor that would suit a variety of dishes. Kids even loved it – I had just as many of them asking for seconds as I do when I sample something sweet!
I would recommend using a good quality balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil – you really taste the flavors and a higher quality product will make an impact. I say good because you need 3/4 c of each for the 2 pounds of asparagus in the recipe, so unless you’re feeling reckless, save the expensive stuff for another time. I used Lucini 10-year Reserve Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (on sale right now for $10.89), because of its flavor and body. I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite olive oils that we carry at the Co-op is the Mihelakis Family Greek olive oil, so I used that as well. However, no matter what ingredients you choose to use I’m sure you’ll love this recipe.
Zesty Marinated Asparagus
- 3/4 c good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 c good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 T Dijon or stone ground mustard
- 2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 1/2” pieces
- 2 t grated lemon zest
- 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 t sea salt
- 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
To make the balsamic vinaigrette:
- Combine the vinegar, garlic and mustard in a bowl with a whisk. Add a pinch of sea salt and whisk.
- In a steady, slow stream add olive oil to the mixture, whisking constantly. Set aside and proceed with recipe.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch asparagus just until tender and bright green, about 1 minute.
- Plunge asparagus into a bowl of ice-cold water to halt the cooking process.
- Drain asparagus and place in a large resealable plastic bag (or leak-proof container).
- Pour in vinaigrette and seal bag. Mix asparagus with vinaigrette thoroughly.
- Refrigerate at least 3 hours (or overnight), turning bag occasionally.
- Just before serving, drain vinaigrette into a bowl.
- Arrange asparagus on a serving platter and sprinkle with lemon zest, parsley, salt, and pepper.
- Serve reserved vinaigrette in a small dish on the side.
Don’t leave out the parsley and lemon zest – they add the extra “zesty” to the dish.
You can also make this with store-bought balsamic vinaigrette—use 1 1/2 c.
Don’t forget to pick up your Proud Co-op Member yard signs to help us celebrate the International Year of Cooperatives – we still have them available at both our stores, or you can also pick one up at the GaPac Credit Union on James St. and at the Industrial Credit Union on State St. We’re also holding a photo contest on Facebook – take a photo of the sign in your yard, post it on our page, and be eligible for a prize giveaway! Deadline is May 14th. Go Co-op!