Here on the east coast, asparagus is in season from April until June, but the peak for slender, pencil-thin spears may have an even smaller window. When I was preparing for the Bloomies cooking demo, asparagus was on the menu, but those gorgeous, slim stalks were difficult to find, while its fatter, less-sweet sister was abundant.
I traveled from store to store, stalking the elusive spear until I eventually landed at Costco. At first glance, it appeared that Costco had come through and that the skinny-mini stalks were available – tucked beneath bags of the regular-sized spears, just out of sight. Unfortunately, the asparagus I sought were locked in a shipping box sealed with heavy, plastic tape.
Armed with bare hands and an eagle’s eye for prime produce, I broke into that crate and grabbed the goods. I felt like thief, though I did put the crate back neatly, following its directions on the sides, “this end up.” Alas – once in hand, as I fled down the aisles to the checkout lane, I saw that the 4½ pounds of asparagus were thinner, but sadly only marginally better than all the rest.
Determined not to lose, I had one more stop before raising the proverbial white flag – Stew Leonard’s was just a quick hop away. And there, at the very entrance of their store were the-most-gorgeous-ever slender, vibrant, tender spears, ripe for the picking and on sale for 1.99 a pound!
Now, what to do with the less-worthy but already purchased produce? You guessed it, an Asparagus Tart (or maybe you didn’t). To follow are the first of at least a couple recipes using the more portly asparagus.
The tip of this spear is this: Stout spears make great soup, stock, Risotto sides and Tarts, but for a tender, elegant side dish, whether grilled, steamed, or broiled lean reigns supreme!