I recently realized we haven’t posted a single asparagus recipe. How does this happen with a gorgeous vegetable that comes in shades of green, purple or white, and looks so beautiful on a plate!
I was practicing gourmet plating techniques the other day. It is like painting with food, keeping in mind taste, temperature, color, and composition. It is a way to express oneself and I often start by sketching my ideas in a notebook. However, you sometimes have to keep in mind and adjust to whom you are plating for.
I was making dinner for a friend and myself. In my mind, I was keeping it very simple because this is how he likes to eat. Nothing crazy. Instead of making a salad with a variety of vegetables, I cut up an avocado and heirloom tomatoes to serve as a side. It was drizzled with olive oil with some salt and pepper. Fresh, clean, simple. I could not go wrong, or so I thought.
I noticed my friend was not eating them, so I asked why. In turn, he asked what did I do to the tomatoes. What did he mean? I wasn’t aware he never had the heirloom variety and was put off by the colors and its shape. I assumed he would like them because he eats the “regular” red ones. The multicolored tomatoes’ shades of green, deep purple and brown took him for a spin. He refused to eat them. What I saw as beautiful was the opposite through his eyes.
So here I am trying to learn more and more about foods, searching for new flavors, new ingredients, and new recipes. Then here is a person who only likes what he’s used to eating every day and never tires of it.
I like the idea that there is no right or wrong, everything has its place in the world. I remember when I first became aware of haute cuisine and thinking how many platings one needs to eat to feel satisfied. The layout confused me and I didn’t understand it, a dot of sauce with a few strategically placed ingredients here and there. For someone who loves sauce, it can be tragic.
This fancy plating seemed unnecessary and even weird. However, I gladly say I love it now. I appreciate the beauty and I can feel what the chef is saying, or the mood she or he is trying to convey. They almost always want to trigger a memory or a feeling and deliver it through the essence of nature recreated on a plate.
Asparagus with Peas, Garlic and Cream is a simple and elegant way to present this savory vegetable.
Asparagus is a Greek word meaning stalk or shoot and was first cultivated in Greece 2,500 years ago. In the U.S., California, Michigan and Washington are top producers of this crisp, sweet vegetable. It is nutritional and delicious whether it is grilled, sautéed, roasted or tossed raw in a salad. It is part of the lily family and is a well-balanced, nutrient-dense vegetable. Asparagus is easy to make and should be a part of your menu.
There are several varieties of asparagus, including the heirlooms ‘Mary Washington’ and ‘Precoce d’Argenteuil’. Mary Washington asparagus is dark green with purple tips and grown in the U.S. Precoce d’Argenteuil is popular in Europe and has blush pink tips. There are hybrids that perform well in cold weather and others that do well in warmer climates.
White asparagus is revered in France, Germany, and parts of Europe. It is grown under mounds of earth and never reaches the sunlight where it can produce chlorophyll. It is simply boiled until tender and served with ramekins of vinaigrette, mayonnaise, and hollandaise sauce for dipping.
It is up to you how to plate this Asparagus with Peas, Garlic and Cream. Get creative and have fun. I promise it will not disappoint you.
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup half and half
- 2-3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium potatoes
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Pinch of smoked paprika, or smoked chipotle (or both)
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven at 420˚F.
- Wash potatoes thoroughly. Cut into circles. Put the potato in a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Spread potatoes, single layer, on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high. Sauté asparagus. Gently turning them time to time, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook.
- Lower the heat to medium and add garlic and green peas. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and cook for another minute.
- Add half and half and cook until almost evaporated. Remove from heat.
- Sour Cream Sauce: In a separate bowl, mix in sour cream with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
- To serve, spoon some sour cream sauce on the plate. Swipe the sauce with the back of the spoon along the plate. Plate asparagus and potatoes and top with green peas and tomatoes.