Cooking without cooking: the delights of asparagus as a simple pleasure of spring | To eat

When friends invited us to dinner at their place, my role was to bring the vegetables. I wanted to choose something delicious that would travel well and didn’t need to be pampered or pampered.

I stuck with two of my favorite vegetables. The whole green beans only needed a quick cut and careful string removal before steaming, and I coated them with a light burst of pink salt.

Next, I steamed a bundle of asparagus with a dusting of lemon pepper. Pulling the spears out of the fire, I couldn’t help but think that they should dress up a bit for a nice dinner.

That’s when I remembered the fresh lime in the fridge. A few seconds of working with a baguette grater produced a delicate cloud of lime zest that transformed a simple side dish into something I was really looking forward to making again. Those of you who are also no-bake cooks at heart will recognize how important it is to look forward to cooking a dish of any kind, so I saw this as a breakthrough.

Everyone at the table loved the asparagus, so I can recommend the lime zest approach if you’re taking advantage of seasonal low prices and stacking a few bunches of spears in your grocery cart. You’ll want to have a few preparations in mind because spring asparagus is irresistible and you’ll want to keep buying it while the price and flavor are at their best.

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If you find thin, tender stalks, consider serving them raw. Cut off any amount of stem that even thinks it’s woody or fluffy. If the spear is wider than, say, a mechanical pencil, you’ll want to slice or shave it off. Asparagus stalk shavings and juicy asparagus tips are delicious additions to green salads. If you like to combine cooked and raw vegetables in your meals for visual impact and an appealing mix of textures, consider serving a salad of spinach leaves and asparagus shavings alongside your steamed entrees and sides.

Small diagonal slices of lightly steamed asparagus also make delicious additions to omelettes, frittatas and other egg dishes. If you are already adding vegetables, sprinkling with asparagus will give the finishing dish an elegant touch. And if you’re planning on giving these spears extra cooking time in an omelet or other dish, don’t overdo it during the initial steaming – and make sure you don’t put any vegetables still moist with steam. in your egg mixture.

As summer approaches, you’ll marinate thicker asparagus tips in olive oil, white wine vinegar and your favorite fresh herbs before grilling them gently and carefully, protecting them from flames with your strongest tongs. If I were to mention how good they would taste next to a grilled chicken with freshly chopped rosemary, your mouth will still be watering on your next Zoom meeting, so I won’t be going there to the moment.

If you’ve been counting down to the arrival of spring, treat yourself to a celebration of spring and serve steamed asparagus alongside the season’s most delicate and flavorful green peas. If you’re ready to take a clean break from winter dishes sticking to your ribs and don’t want to overwhelm little spring treasures with butter, you might find yourself reaching for a pinch of lime zest. You’re welcome.