Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Market Haul: Stir-Fried Asparagus, Crisp Cooked Jerusalem Artichokes, Linguine with Clams

Spring is here, bigtime. I was psyched about the first signs of it at the greenmarket, with ramps and green garlic and then the asparagus, such delicious asparagus! But now the strawberries are out and we're really in full swing. This meal, from right before my trip to New Orleans, felt like a climax of the early spring period. Almost everything came from the greenmarket, and it was all delicious.

For the salad, I sauteed a bunch of ramps in olive oil and a tiny bit of butter, starting with the ramps and then adding the greens at the last second. Threw it on top of some lettuce, with olive oil, balsamic vingegar, black pepper, and some parmesan cheese. Keep it simple, you know? You don't need to do a lot when you have really great produce. This was in now way a HTCE recipe, per se, but I think Bittman would approve.

With the asparagus, I made Bittman's Stir-Fried Asparagus. Basically, you cut the asparagus into bite size pieces and just barely cook by steaming it (I did it in the microwave), then add it to a pan with some hot oil, garlic, chiles (I used sriracha), soy sauce, a bit of water, and a bit of sesame oil. I'm sure you could add whatever else you feel like here, and indeed Bittman has a list following the recipe with seven different ideas for stir-frying asparagus, including fermented black beans (yum) and chopped nuts.

Stir-Fried Asparagus

All in all, I wasn't so crazy about this method of cooking asparagus, but I think that may be because I cooked them too much during the steaming process. I will probably try this again to see if that's the case.

Along with that, there was the How to Cook Everything recipe for Crisp-Cooked Sunchokes, which at the market they call Jerusalem Artichokes; Bittman says they're the same thing. They look a little like a spiky potato, and they taste like the lovechild of a potato and an artichoke. For this recipe, you chop them up and cook them in a pan with a little oil, as if they were hash browns. They have a sweet, artichoke-ish flavor, but they behave a lot like potatoes (they're great roasted as well).

Jerusalem Artichokes

I burned them a little, but it only made them taste better. In the last minute, you throw in some chopped shallot, onion, or garlic. I went with shallot, which in retrospect was the right choice.

Have you ever heard of green garlic? It's one of the best parts of early spring. It looks kind of like an overgrown scallion, but it smells and tastes like garlic, with a much lighter, sweeter flavor.

Green Garlic

Basically, you can use loads of it, substitute it for both the onion and the garlic in a recipe, but it never really gets all garlicky and scary like it would if you used too much regular garlic. Great stuff. I used it in the Linguine with Clams recipe, which is easy and pretty impressive, I might add. You just throw some clams, maybe like three pounds or so though you can get away with using less (cockles are fine) into a pot with some hot oil til they start to open up and release their juices. That's basically the whole sauce right there, it's pretty light but very tasty.

Linguine with Clams

And that was our early spring feast. Sure, I'll miss the ramps, but I'll get over it with the help of delicious fresh strawberries. Don't look back, you know?

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