Sunday, July 13, 2008
ASPARAGUS 2 WAYS: Raw Asparagus & Tomato Curry; Spicy Asparagus Stir-fry
Sometimes we have great produce at the Farmers' Market, sometimes not so good. It all depends on the weather, right? But this last while we have been pretty lucky. Recently we had some great stuff available (see above) which we carted back home. Then the question comes: What to make with all this delightful produce! This is what we came up with in our house.
RAW ASPARAGUS AND TOMATO CURRY
Before you run away, remember that asparagus is very VERY tender when eaten young and fresh, and of course tomatoes only need a little coaxing to render up their wonderful juices and flavours. Okay - with me so far?
This recipe is adapted from one by Kate Wood in Eat Smart Eat Raw. Since tastes differ and, in any case, we tend to cut way WAY down on or cut completely out added oils and unnecessary oily ingredients, we didn't try this recipe as originally intended. Instad we came up with the following:
For The Sauce:
4 sundried tomatoes, soaked
3/4 lb tomatoes
1 stick celery
1/4 pound carrots
1 or two thick slices of onion, to taste
1 red thai chili
2 Tbsp garam masala, or to taste
a little liquid (soaking liquid from the sundried tomatoes will do fine)
For the Vegetables:
1/4 lb carrots, peeled into long 'noodles' with a vegetable peeler
1 bunch young asparagus (around a dozen stems), cut into bite-sized pieces
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb spinach, finely shredded
2 tsp pumpkin seeds/pepitas
1 ounce sprouts (I used mixed 'salad sprouts') - and save a few more for garnish
I made the sauce first, putting everything into the blender, adding as much of the tomato-soaking liquid as was needed to make blending possible. This should be a nice smooth puree.You can chill this, but I preferred it at room temperature..
Next the vegetables. The only trick here is the carrot preparation, and that's easier than it looks. Simply use a vegetable peeler and peel thin strips down the carrot to make 'noodles'. When you can't peel any more, chop the tiny nub that's left as best you can and start on the next carrot.
See them below:
Add all these lovely carrot 'noodles' to the rest of the veggies, mixing them into a bowl. Then dump in the sauce.
The sauce is wonderful, but you may want to taste for more seasoning. It can be as salt and/or as spicy as you want it to be.
After adding the sauce, few stirs to coat all the vegetables with the great curry flavours..
That's it. It is easy and it tastes - well - WONDERFUL! Try it :)
For my next trick, I'll just give you my standard
(serves 2 for a light meal)
This is cooked, I assure you, although 'stir-fried' is an exaggeration, since I prefer to stir-steam (you know what I mean).
This recipe was inspired by a very similar one in Madhur Jaffrey's _World Vegetarian_ cookbook. The dish is from Hong Kong.
In this version, oil is at a minimum and the flavours at a maximum ;=) Since this was for a light meal I used only one bunch of asparagus for the two of us. Obviously, all measurements are to taste, but if you really don't like spicy food this just won't taste the same without lots of ginger, chillies and garlic.
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
A little water or stock to 'sautee' the vegetables - or you can use a little oil if you prefer
3 thin slices of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 or 2 dried hot red chillies, crumbled
2 Tbsp (or so) vegetable stock
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste
1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional for those cooking low fat)
1/2 tsp sesame seeds for garnish and flavour
springs of cilantro for garnish and flavour
Soak asparagus in cold water to keep crisp while chopping the other ingredients. Put stock (or oil) in skillet/fry pan over high heat and stir in ginger, garlic, and crumbled chillies. Stir well and then add asparagus pieces (well drained) and stir quickly to coat with spices. Add the extra stock, soy sauce, sugar and salt and when it comes to the boil (almost immediately!) turn the heat to low and cover for about four minutes, being careful not to let it burn. Remove cover. Asparagus should be almost but not quite cooked - in the Chinese way. The liquid should be absorbed, but if not let it evaporate over the heat. Add the sesame oil (if used) and stir. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro and serve over steamed brown rice.
Note, timing is approximate and depends on the weight of your pan and the heat of your stove. The point is: don't let is burn, don't let it go limp, whatever you do. The vegetables should be hot but not losing their very crisp texture.