Vegetables

Asparagus ‘most majestic’ vegetable | Food for Thought

(April 15, 2022) My mother is the queen of snapshots. Every minute detail of the Walker’s past has been diligently recorded for keepsake recollections.

It’s mesmerizing how a single picture can bring back so many fond remembrances. Allow me to turn back the hands of time to March 30, 2013.

It had been several months since I have been able to visit with my family, but fate held out its hand and a bond of trust cleared the path for a quick get-away to Woodbine, Maryland. Eagerness is the blue plate special; my heavy foot must behave.

The sparkling hues of the Eastern Shore refracted in the passing wind as a spectacle of dazzling luminance twinkled ahead.

Once passed the accelerated streaking flash of urbanism, a sense of manifestation took over my being and serenity hummed my favorite tune. It wasn’t until the moon tucked mother nature in bed, I knew home was near.

As I pulled into the driveway, the pond was frolicking in the lunar delight. Magnificent trees bowed in formality that is only fitting for such an estate. Statuesque columns demand the utmost attention, but a single candle in each window glows with warmth and southern hospitality.

Silence is full of life if one is willing to listen. The stillness of the evening echoed the nocturnal life before me.

I tiptoed inside, careful not to wake my parents. Even the fireplace was at peace, but a glow of fervor bid me hello. My entire life was resting on the kitchen table. Mother had put together a photo album of my childhood.

A much-needed bottle of Chateau St. Jean was chilled to perfection. A bouquet of gorgeous spring flowers and a chocolate Easter bunny accompanied the album. These thoughtful touches were by way of dad.

My father was not a man of words and affection was a spice he rarely used. Love is personal and cannot be generalized; we were adored and that is what is important.

As the wine soothes my soul, I peak into the album. The wings of wisdom prevail and a particular photo captures my fancy. I am 2 years of age, impeccably adorned in my Sunday best and proudly holding my goodies from the Easter bunny.

Innocence and sincerity are the flavors of the day. Matching bonnet and coat symbolize much sacrifice. Tiny white gloves are indicative of refinement. Wealth is not a measurement of sophistication. Hard work, honesty and perseverance are the sweetness of character.

Another sip of wine entices me to partake of my chocolate bunny. I can’t help but wonder if pride or disappointment is perched in my parent’s nest of thoughts?

It has been a long day and the thought of a cozy, soft bed beckons me to call it a night, but the tranquility is mesmerizing and I find myself to be quite content. It is then that I realized there is no feeling like being home. And with that thought, I retired for the evening.

Turning the hands of time to present day, asparagus are a family favorite and with good reason.

Out of all the vegetables that grace our bountiful tables, asparagus are the most majestic. Their grand appearance sets them apart and has earned them the title – the king of vegetables.

Asparagus lose their flavor quickly, so the sooner you cook them the better off you are. But, the best way to preserve them is cut off the ends, place upright in a cup of water, and store in the refrigerator.

Creativity is a good thing and should always be a consideration. Steamed asparagus with hollandaise sauce are decadent, roasted asparagus are rustic, and both preparations are predictable.

So, let’s take a look at some tasty options. Consider wrapping thin slices of prosciutto around the asparagus for a finger-friendly side.

Pickled asparagus are a wonderful addition to cheese platters. The acidity helps cut the richness of the cheese.

Fresh asparagus topped with a crunchy Parmigiano-Reggiano crust is decadent and easy to make. Simply steam the asparagus until they are al dente.

Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, panko bread crumbs, and herbs de province mixture. Broil until the cheese melts and develops a golden-brown color.

If the asparagus are thick, you must peel them from the head to the base. The skin of thick asparagus is very tough. By the time the skin is cooked, the flesh will be mushy.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is expensive. Regular parmesan cheese works well and will cut down on the cost of the dish.

Easter is one of the biggest holidays of the year and one’s menu should highlight this celebration. Fresh asparagus crowned with a Parmigiano-Reggiano crust is decadent and worthy of a king. Enjoy!

Asparagus with a Parmigiano-Reggiano Crust

Ingredients

2 bunches fresh asparagus

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnishing

3 tablespoons plain panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon Herbs de Province

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Cut off the white part of the asparagus, they are tough and undesirable. Peel the asparagus from the head to the end of the stalk. If the asparagus are thin, do not peel.

2. In a small bowl, mix the cheese, panko, herbs de province, and salt.

3. Steam until al dente, the timing will depend on the thickness of the asparagus.

4. Remove immediately, turn the oven to broil, and spoon on Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese mixture.

5. Broil until cheese obtains a golden-brown color.

6. Remove from oven, add a dusting of freshly ground pepper and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and serve immediately.

Secret Ingredient – New Beginnings. “Every new beginning comes from some other’s beginnings end.”

– Seneca

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