OK, OK. It’s been ages since I’ve blogged. I honestly hope that my formerly loyal readers don’t even catch that I’m back. As I don’t know whether I just took a long break, or this is just a fluke post.
Spring. The apple trees are in bloom and the Yakima Valley is looking absolutely beautiful. The sagebrush has new leaves of (incredibly!!) sage green color, much different than found later in the summer as everything dries up. Spring flowers are in full display. Even the blossoms on the locoweed are lush and lovely this year (with warnings from me to the cows to “stay away – makes you crazy. Look but don’t taste”.)
And I am once again in love with asparagus. It’s back in the stores- local and cheap. Filling my shopping basket, and then my head, with visions of spring dishes. Look and then definitely do taste! I thought that I had this one down pat. Either steam it, grill it, or roast it in a hot oven after drizzling with olive oil. And then I read an article in the New York Times last week about “slow cooking asparagus in paper packets” It included this recipe:
Baked Asparagus With Shiitake, Prosciutto and Couscous
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into 1/4-inch strips
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons; additional for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
3 tarragon sprigs
3/4 cup whole-wheat couscous.
1. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (it should be twice as long as pan). Lay asparagus in a pile in center. Scatter mushrooms and prosciutto on top. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the pepper and nutmeg. Toss vegetables to coat evenly. Lay tarragon over top.
2. Fold parchment to completely enclose vegetables, and staple top and sides shut (or tie up with string). Transfer pan to oven and bake for one hour. Asparagus should be just cooked through. If too crisp, return to oven until done to taste.
3. In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons olive oil and remaining salt to a simmer. Stir in couscous and remove pot from heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.
4. Spoon couscous onto serving plates and drizzle with oil. Divide prosciutto and vegetables, and their juices, among the plates and serve.
Yield: 2 main-course servings, or 4 side-dish servings.
I got our my roll of parchment paper and got busy – altering the recipe. No shitake mushrooms here, so regular white cremini will have to do. No prosciutto either. But I did have some Canadian bacon that I cut into little strips. Also no tarragon sprigs, so dried tarragon had to suffice. I put everything together, got out my stapler (great suggestion to use this instead of string) and popped it in the oven. I doubted that anything would even cook 200 degrees. But an hour later, when I took it out, it was heavenly. WOW! I tried it again a few days later and took it out after 45 minutes. Still WOW!. This is a keeper.