Friday, April 23, 2010

Veggie Star Appearance in the Valley

Hadley grass, so prized, so loved, so chronicled in the Valley that some folks can actually taste on which side of the river it is grown. Like with wine, terroir makes a difference.

This time of year there are recipes galore for this New England perennial. In one, the asparagus is transformed into ice cream (!) and then piped into the beginning of the season, keep it simple to best taste this shining star of Hadley, lo these many decades. Recipes requiring asparagus to be transformed into ice cream that gets piped into endive. Another recipe suggests bundling up asparagus into parchment paper to bake in a slow oven. Why not? But maybe later in the season when the sensory impact has taken its initial toll.

What

Forage asparagus at a farmers' market or at a stand in Sunderland on the river, or Atkins, Serios or foraged from a spot near the oxbow. Look for skinny spears encased in weeds.

How

Merely break off the ends...let the vegetable show you where. No knife necessary. Clean gently with water, dry and coat with olive oil.

Put on a baking sheet and broil until browned or cook fast and hot in a skillet on top of the stove or on the grill. Come up with a way to prevent the spears from falling in.

You can boil it but do it fast and take the spears out (thin after 4 min, fat after around 6 min) and run them under cold water or plunge in ice or a cold mountain stream to stop the cooking. This will maintain color, flavor and nutrients.