Over the summer when I was staying with my family in Connecticut, my sister and I would always get hungry at the same time every afternoon. The women in my family share uncanny similarities in cravings and body type: for example, each one from my grandmother to my sister (myself included) craves ice-cold water first thing in the morning. Strange how certain things can be passed down.
Anyway, I’d been interested in cooking with asparagus, and decided to try it one July afternoon. Because it wasn’t asparagus season anymore, we added red peppers to counteract the bitterness of the asparagus. The best asparagus is harvested around April. It’s a good idea to stock up on locally grown, pesticide-free asparagus in April and freeze it right away. It will keep, and if you use frozen asparagus, you can snap the spears into pieces and throw them right into the pan; you don’t have to worry about letting them thaw!
May is a great time of year for this dish because it welcomes summer in a great way as a before-dinner snack or a meal’s side dish (try pairing it with chicken or another light meat, and remember, meat should be treated as a side dish rather than the main course.) Of course, during this time of year, there’s no better way to greet an Indian summer!
Recipe after the jump…
6 – 8 spears asparagus
approx. 15 green beans
1 fresh red pepper
2 garlic cloves (minced)
extra virgin olive oil
a handful or two of unsalted cashews (for garnishing)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for garnishing)
1 bottle white wine, chilled
1. Chop asparagus and green beans into bite-size pieces. Meanwhile, heat the oil and a few pats of butter in a frying pan.
2.Chop the red pepper pretty finely. There shouldn’t be <italic>too</italic> much; just enough to add exciting color to all that green. Also, mince the garlic, and then toss everything you just chopped into the heated oil and butter.
3. While that simmers over low heat, put a handful of unsalted cashews into a Ziploc bag, sealing it tightly. Make sure there aren’t any air pockets. Using a corked bottle of white wine, crush the cashews finely by rolling the bottle over the Ziploc bag, like a rolling pin (a la that girl Tasha and Alice had a joint crush on in Season 6 of ‘The L Word.’ A genius and a hottie!) Yes, yes, you could technically use an actual rolling pin, but this way you get to drink the wine afterward!
4. <italic>Smell</italic> what’s cooking in the pan to figure out what else it needs. More butter? More garlic? Trust your nose and add ingredients accordingly.
5. When the veggies are <italic>just barely</italic> soft — and very brightly colored — sprinkle half of the crushed cashews over the mixture and let it sit for a minute or two, turning a couple of times. Don’t leave them alone for too long, however; you don’t want the cashew pieces to get soft.
6. Serve hot! Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Keep the Parm and crushed cashews nearby; it’s nice to have more halfway through.