Guest Author - Jason Hodge
I was at the farmer's market one day and a bunch of freshly harvested asparagus [or would that be 'asparagum'? - I digress.] called out to me, "Jason… wouldn't you like to do some grilling today?" Well… needless to say, I had to say "yes", so I grabbed some and let the fun begin.
Now I'm not too proud or even opposed to looking at recipes or getting into intense foodie convos with my fellow foodies to get my creative juices flowing. It's fun, inviting and I'm all about that; however, this time I happened to reach into my foodie box and grabbed one of those store recipe cards, I came across a few years back, with an asparagus w/ tomato vinaigrette recipes on it. Thought it sounded a little on the boring side. I had to modify it. Here's what I did.
I got some water on the fire, salted and boiled. Took a pound of that fresh asparagus, trimmed it and dropped it in the water let it blanch until it developed a bright green color [about 3-5 minutes] and immediately dunked it into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and fix the color. Then I set it aside waiting for their next step.
The sauce was a lot more complex. I wanted the smoke, the sweet and the tang in it, so I grabbed some peppers: green, red, yellow and orange [one of each] and roasted them over an open flame until they were charred [their skins were black] and placed them in a covered warmed, stainless steel mixing bowl and let them sweat it out. In a sauce pan I put a good amount of
extra virgin olive oil [about 1/3 - 1/2 cup],
3 black cardamom pods,
1 tsp fennel seeds,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds,
1 tsp dill seeds,
1/2 tsp coriander seeds and
1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
and let them simmer until they were fizzing and fragrant. Then I added
1 medium size onion [chopped]
pink Himilayan salt [to taste]
1 tsp chiipotle powder [optional],
cooked until onions were translucent and sweet smelling and then I added
3 cloves of crushed, fresh garlic and
1 tbsp capers
and let them fry up to reduce their liquids. After they lost their steam I added
1 handful sweet, grape tomatoes and the
charred peppers, that I skinned and diced.
I let those fry up, the tomatoes burst and reduced the volume by half and finished off with
1/4 cup palm sugar,
1/3 cup coconut vinegar and
1 tbsp mustard.
Stirred and reduced the heat to a simmer to marry the flavors while I finished the last phase of the asparagus.
The last thing I did to finish off the asparagus was place them on a grill, that's coals were kissed with soaked mesquite wood chips for the smoke factor. I got the grill real hot [I wanted the essence of the smoke without "cooking" the asparagus through and the marks of the grate]. I had the lid down to contain the smoke and when I raised it I quickly laid my asparagus spears on it to get those sear marks and closed it back again for just about a minute. SIZZLE BABY!
It looked AWESOME!
I plated them on a simple white oblong platter [spears fanning out] and spooned the sweet, tangy , smoky sauce over them and garnished with fresh mint and dill weed snipped over the top with a dash of smoked sea salt.
I really enjoyed myself this day!
For more of my food diatribes peruse this site; or if you actually want to see a slew of some of my favorite foodie videos pop over to my food channel and discover a whole new world!
As always, It's my pleasure sharing these vegetarian food excursions with you. Until next time…