Even out my own back window, in the lower garden, where we planted it last summer. That asparagus needs a few cycles before it can be picked, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it from many other local sources.
I tried a new-to-me farmer’s market this week, Market & Penn, and what did I see at the first produce stand I walked past?
Beautiful, brilliantly green pencil-thin asparagus.
I won’t try to turn you onto thin asparagus if you prefer thick, but the young stuff is just so tender and flavorful that I reach for it every time.
This time, I snagged mine at William L. Miller’s Fresh Poulty & Vegetables stand at the back of the indoor Market & Penn Farmer’s Market in York city.
Miller’s is a family-owned stand that’s been at the market for … wait for it … 66 years. The locally grown produce, of which there’s quite a bit, is clearly marked “York County.” I know I’m biased toward local, but it really does look better than the non-local food (though the North Carolina strawberries I saw weren’t anything to scoff at).
At $3.99 a pound, the asparagus was a pretty good deal. I was told it was picked the day before, so it doesn’t get much more fresh than that. I’m willing to pay for “fresh.”
And I knew just what to make with it.
Storage tip: Asparagus should be immediately cleaned, then covered and refrigerated. If you need to keep it longer than a couple of days, wrap the stalks in a wet paper towel or even stand a rubber-banded bunch up in a small bowl of water.
For an easy protein to go with your fresh, local asparagus, I like eggs.
And when I say “I like eggs,” I mean, I adore eggs and would eat them at every meal.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t like weighing down veggies with heavy sauces. Even when I recommend a cream sauce to you, as in last week’s fiddleheads post, the sauce will be as light as possible, and usually dressing a base for the vegetables, rather than poured over them.
I’m a big fan of letting vegetables breathe.
The only exception is when a sunnyside up egg, with all its decadent, yolky goodness, is plopped on top of a pile of slightly charred roasted asparagus …
Roasted asparagus with sunnyside up eggs
- A bunch of fresh asparagus of uniform thickness, stalks trimmed
- Sesame oil, and sesame seeds, if you have them
- However many eggs you want (here’s my requisite plug for local, farm fresh eggs free of hormones and antibiotics)
- A little butter for frying the eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
Toss cleaned, trimmed and dry asparagus in a large bowl with a tablespoon or two of the sesame oil and a couple pinches of salt. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on foil or in a baking dish. Roast about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until browning and just tender. Pick a test piece from the middle to see if the thickest part cuts easily, but a little crunch is fine.
During the last five minutes of roasting your asparagus, fire up a skillet for the eggs. Melt butter, then crack eggs into the skillet slowly, taking care not to break the yolk. (Yet. There is a time for breaking the yolk, and it will be glorious, but for now, patience.) Cover the eggs so the yolk sets a bit before the bottoms of the eggs have a chance to burn. The yolks should get a film over them, but the whites should be fully firm when you take them out.
To plate it: Arrange stalks of roasted asparagus on the plate, then top each grouping of asparagus with egg. Salt and pepper to taste.
And then comes the best part — pick up your fork and slowly move it toward your egg. When you’re ready to take your first bite, and not a second before, jab the egg yolk with your fork and spend no more than 5 seconds watching the golden deliciousness spill over the green roasted deliciousness, making a whole new deliciousness.
OK, now stop wasting time food-gazing and eat, already.
Locally in-season: Asparagus
Where I got it: William L. Miller Fresh Poultry & Vegetables, Market & Penn Farmer’s Market, 380 W. Market St., York, open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, free off-street parking