Feeling Like a Cliché ... and Being Cool with It
Attempting to not spend all my money on berries and greens and asparagus
I ate a pound of asparagus the other day. I tried to not eat all of it, but it was too good. Just roasted, with lots of olive oil and salt. All by itself.
You might ask why, or you might not — there’s a good chance that some of you will understand why, right off the bat, for your own personal reasons. But in the last couple years, I’ve joined the ranks of uber-conscious individuals who attempt to eat seasonally as often as possible. So I really don’t eat asparagus out of season, and when it comes around, I greet it like a long lost friend and delight in its company.
Some of you are probably wondering what took me so long; some of you are probably rolling your eyes. All fine! And, really, I kind of like that eating seasonally limits my choices a little, limits the time that I spend staring into the produce section of the grocery store (limits my time in the grocery store, really, because I do more farmers market shopping).
In light of the bounty that the northeastern corner of the US has to offer right now, here are some things I’ve been making. And to those of you who live in more forgivable climates: HELLO, LUCKY, and you can enjoy these, too:
Shrimp with Asparagus, Dill, and Spice: This is a gem from Mark’s OG Kitchen Express, which is the book version of all those lists everyone loves so much. I don’t make shrimp often, because much of the farmed shrimp that’s sold around the world is not only environmentally unsustainable but also relies on what amounts to slave labor. So, yeah, if you’re going to cook shrimp, you should try to find some that’s wild-caught and domestic, which is what I did here. The butter plus hot sauce plus Worcestershire plus lemon juice makes sort of a broth that is irresistible, and I don’t know about you, but I love dill.
Cheesy Cream of Spinach Soup: Sure, you can make spinach soup with all that glorious spinach that’s around right now. Or you can make spinach soup with that glorious spinach plus a cup of Parmesan cheese stirred in. Your choice.
Pasta with Gorgonzola and Arugula: Pardon me, because I know I wrote about my love for arugula just two weeks ago, but when that feisty, spicy green is combined with gorgonzola cheese and starchy goodness, my taste buds are so happy.
Fifteen Minute Fruit Gratin: Holy strawberry heaven (or any other fruit you can get your hands on). Topped with heavy cream and sugar, and then broiled. What could go wrong?! (A note: I somehow thought this would be like strawberries and cream. It’s not. It’s a lot runnier, because, hello, warm juice and strawberry-scented dairy. Eat it in a bowl, solo, or you could even put it on top of, say, a brownie. That would not be bad.)
Shrimp with Asparagus, Dill, and Spice
Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a skillet; when it’s hot, add about a pound of sliced asparagus; stir and cook until crisp-tender, about five minutes, then remove. Add some more butter to the pan and repeat with about a pound of shrimp, cooking until it turns pink, about four minutes. Return the asparagus to the pan and sprinkle with a few drops of Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, dill, and lemon juice. Serve over a bed of jasmine rice.
— Recipe from Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Express
Cheesy Cream of Spinach Soup
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound spinach, trimmed of thick stems
2 cups vegetable stock or water
2 cups cream, half-and-half, whole milk, or nondairy milk
Up to 1 cup grated cheese (Parmesan and cheddar are traditional and tasty choices)
Salt and pepper
1. Put the butter or oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the butter foams or the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until it’s coated and beginning to wilt. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then quickly lower the heat to a bubble. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the spinach is tender but still brightly colored, just a minute or 2.
3. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot. Or let the soup cool a little, carefully purée it in a blender (working in batches if necessary), and return it to the pot. (You can make the soup in advance up to this point. Cool, cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.) Stir in the cream and up to 1 cup grated cheese and let heat up, stirring frequently, without bringing the soup to a boil. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.