One of the sure signs that Spring is near is the arrival of tender, young Asparagus.
Now I realize that some folks aren’t all that excited about this unusual vegetable, but it is something like Eggplant, or even Brussels Sprouts. Store-bought, it is not that appealing and is often rightly described as insipid. A lot of us grew up with mushy, steamed-to-death stalks of slightly slimy green yuck.
I thought much the same until encountering the young green stalks growing alongside the irrigation ditches as a pre-teen. Sliced off just below ground level to encourage next year’s growth, taken straight home, washed and lightly sauteed in butter before being drenched in eggs with fresh home grown tomato, basil and oregano in a classic frittata, I fell in love with that incredibly fresh, lingering taste of Spring. So much so, in fact, that I have been hesitant to buy asparagus from the store, preferring to get it from the Farmer’s Market or other fresh sources.
I have found that the sautee method keeps the crisp texture while concentrating the fresh taste, while steaming or boiling creates the mushy texture and drains the flavor out.
Here is a different approach to the presentation, that has a medley of fresh flavors that will make it memorable in a positive way!
Sauteed Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 lbs fresh asparagus, trimmed to bite size
- salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Stirring constantly, sautee the garlic and pine nuts in the melted butter until the garlic is fragrant and the nuts just begin to turn brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.
Add the asparagus and prosciutto to the mixture and toss to mix evenly. Continue to sautee until asparagus is bright green, tender and still just slightly crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; serve hot.
Serves 6 as a side dish.