To every thing there is a season and asparagus says Spring in the Northwest like no other vegetable. The highly anticipated arrival of local asparagus at the University District Farmers Market signals the floodgates are opening and from here on out, there will be new and exciting produce arriving every week. Those of us who frequent the farmers market regardless of the weather have been waiting all winter for this moment.
Just in case you’re new to asparagus prep, this post will help you out. First-of-the-season asparagus needs almost no embellishment, maybe some butter, salt & pepper, a squirt of lemon. I’ll keep it simple for the first few weeks before I start adding sauces just to savor the unique taste I’ve been craving. Once I’ve gotten my fill of unadorned asparagus, I have a few new tricks up my sleeve that I’d like to share with you. But, if I’m being completely honest, this miso butter is so good I’m already eating it on everything in sight, asparagus included. My inspiration for the following recipes came from a beautiful vegetarian cookbook called Feast by Sarah Copeland.
Miso Butter Recipe
Ingredients: 2T unsalted butter at room temperature/ 1 T miso – I used white, her recipe calls for yellow/ 1/4 t sriracha, to taste.
Directions: Mix butter and miso together with a sturdy spoon in a small bowl until fully incorporated. Add hot sauce, if you wish.
Seriously, I had a hard time not eating this by the spoonful so I slathered it on a cracker and somehow that made me feel less decadent. Go figure.
If you’re more in the mood for a spring asparagus salad, try this ranch dressing – a great way to use fresh chives from the garden and green garlic from the farmers market. Charlie loved it, but then again, he didn’t get to try the miso butter. It mysteriously disappeared….
Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe
Ingredients: 1/2 cup plain Greek or any full fat yogurt/ 1/3 cup mayonnaise/ 1/3 cup buttermilk/ 1 clove garlic, minced (if you happen to have some green garlic, use it instead)/ 1T fresh lemon juice/ huge bunch of fresh chives/Salt & pepper/ 1/4 t sriracha or your favorite hot sauce, to taste, optional.
Directions: Whisk everything together in a medium bowl/ Adjust salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste/ Store in a jar in the fridge until ready to use.
I used a recipe from the above mentioned cookbook, Feast ,for cornmeal fried tofu on asparagus but the ranch dressing would work with any asparagus salad, or any salad for that matter.
If you can’t stand the thought of throwing away at least a quarter of these lovely stalks, Sally has a recipe for a lovely broth, using all of your asparagus, um, butts.