Asparagus time

Today's recipe: Asparagus Goulash

asparagus in vase in garden

I don’t know about you, but we love asparagus. We used to have a very prolific asparagus bed, but it had past it’s sell by date and was delivering less and less each year. And then it got overgrown and I forgot where it was and mowed over the bed a couple of days ago. Oops. You could smell the asparagus, but you couldn’t see it. So I decided to put some in a vase and take it into the garden. If you can’t make the garden come to the asparagus, then you have to take the asparagus to the garden…or something like that.

So we have resorted to buying it as it is on sale everywhere and have been eating it at least three times a week for the last month. On Monday we went to the market in Mirande and bought the freshest white asparagus we’ve had this season. He must have picked it moments before. It was our first visit to that particular market and it was really nice. (I will be doing a post on that and other markets, but all in good time!) I would have taken some pictures of the market this time, but we were lured away by the smell of the Rotisserie chicken man – not the man, but his chicken – and so we bought one and sat in the picnic area greedily eating it with fresh bread. It’s worth going to the market just for that!

rotisserie chicken

I am becoming quite a dab hand at finding different ways of preparing asparagus. I used to buy the absolute thinnest white spears I could find as some chef (with an army of slaves to peel them) said they taste better than the fat ones. Well boo to you. We find that the fat ones taste as good just as long they are fresh. Considering that I am the only slave in this establishment, the fatter the better. I’m talking about the asparagus, not me!

We usually started off the asparagus season in the USA, where I have only ever found the green asparagus (we stayed in Massachusetts). No peeling – excellent. Just boil and serve with butter and salt. I found that my mates in the US liked their asparagus too soft, but we prefer them al dente, so don’t boil them for more than 5-10 minutes if you also like them to still have a little bite. At Lynn and Steve’s on Cape Cod, we would generally have it with Swordfish done on the barbeque – delicious. And at Peg and Tim’s in Worcester, she would make breaded chicken breasts and slice the asparagus into a lemon sauce with pasta – I’m short-circuiting the computer as I salivate all over it just thinking about it. Take me back home, asparagus road!

asparagus ham potatoes

A favourite way to eat asparagus in Europe is with new potatoes and ham, and this is something we often have. We have planted rows of potatoes (remember I told you that Joerg is a very keen gardener) and it is such a pleasure to go outside and dig up some potatoes for supper. Another favourite of mine is Pork goulash with tagliatelle pasta and asparagus. The green asparagus looks better on the plate than the white one, but they both taste great so I don’t get hung up on the colour. You can use veal instead of pork if you prefer – this also tastes really good. Here is my recipe for this delicious meal.

asparagus goulash

(Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil, preferably olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g pork, cut into thin slices
Salt and pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp flour
325ml / 1 ½ cups stock
200-250ml cream
1kg asparagus
250g tagliatelle (see NOTE)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tomato, chopped (optional)
Chervil or parsley, to serve

1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then add the pork and sauté till browned. Season with the salt, pepper and paprika then sprinkle the flour over and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Snap the ends off the asparagus and peel if using white asparagus. Cook in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus. At the same time, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, also about 10 minutes, but do read the instructions on your packet.

3. Add the cream to the pork and heat through for a few minutes, but do not allow to boil. Add the lemon juice to taste. Drain the pasta and the asparagus. Serve the goulash either over the asparagus or the pasta – I prefer to serve it with the pasta and the asparagus on the side. If using tomato chop it finely and sprinkle over – it adds a bit of color too. Do the same with the chervil or parsley. Enjoy!

NOTE: My US spell checker did not understand tagliatelle and I can’t remember what it’s called in the USA. It is a broader version of spaghetti.

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