Kick off the Bay Area’s bountiful produce season with local asparagus.
For Postino executive chef Stewart Beatty, the sight of spring asparagus isn’t the same as any another vegetable at the farmers market: It heralds the start of the Bay Area’s bounty of warm-weather produce.
“It’s one of the ingredients I anticipate the most all year,” he says. “It’s abundant before other spring fixtures like strawberries or decent-sized fava beans become available.”
It’s also inexpensive and versatile, says Beatty, who enjoys having a few different sizes of asparagus for different uses in the kitchen. Large spears are the most flavorful and are perfect for grilling; standard sizes are great for roasting and slicing; and thin asparagus dries out easily, so it’s best used for pastas or soups.
However it’s used, asparagus is a welcome sign of plentiful days to come.
“I think it’s always fun to have something so fresh after the winter,” Beatty says. “Asparagus is to spring what tomatoes are to late summer.”
For asparagus recipes from three local chefs, including Beatty’s roasted asparagus with house-made “baconnaise,” fried egg, grana, and black truffle oil, scroll down.
Three Asparagus Recipes from Local Chefs
Roasted asparagus with baconaise, fried egg, grana, and black truffle oil
Courtesy of Stewart Beatty, executive chef at Postino Restaurant in Lafayette
Serves 4 hearty first course portions
2 bunches asparagus, bottoms trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of thick cut bacon
½ cup mayonnaise
1 small block of grana or parmesan reggiano for grating
black truffle oil
2 pinches kosher salt (divided)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (divided)
Cook bacon in a small amount of oil. Remove bacon from pan and dry on a paper towel. Allow the bacon fat in the pan to cool slightly then whisk the mayonnaise into the bacon fat. Roughly chop the bacon.
Heat oven to 400. Warm the olive oil in an oven-safe pan and add trimmed washed asparagus. Add one pinch of kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon of the ground black pepper. Lightly toss the asparagus to coat evenly with the olive oil and seasoning. Place the pan in the oven for approximately four minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus.
While asparagus is roasting, warm a sauté pan with a small amount of butter or extra virgin olive oil. Crack the four eggs into the pan, and lightly season the eggs with the remaining salt and pepper. Quickly fry the eggs on high heat, just on one side, for about 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.
Portion the “baconaise” onto four plates, spreading it out with the back of a spoon. Place equal portions of the asparagus onto each plate. You may want to quickly pop the fried eggs into the 400 oven just for one minute to cook the eggs a little more and make them easier to remove from the pan. With a wide spatula, carefully cut apart and put one egg atop each pile of asparagus.
Grate parmesan cheese over each dish, and drizzle liberally with black truffle oil
Quiche with asparagus and goat cheese
Courtesy of Rick Delamain, executive chef of Cypress Restaurant in Walnut Creek
2 sheets puff pastry
1 pound asparagus tips (blanched to tender)
8 ounces goat cheese
2 cups heavy cream
fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
In 8” baking dish, line with parchment paper, place puff pastry over parchment, shaping to the baking dish. Dock the dough to prevent bubbles and cover with parchment and weigh down dough. Par bake dough at 450 degrees for five to seven minutes, remove and allow to cool.
In bowl, add eggs and cream. Whisk to blend together and add asparagus and goat cheese to egg mixture. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to mixture and place into shell. Place quiche into oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. With knife, check center of quiche for doneness. Allow quiche to cool before serving. Serve with field greens with citrus vinaigrette.
Vegan stir-fried asparagus and white mushrooms
Courtesy of Uncle Yu’s in the Vineyard in Livermore
6 asparagus spears—use the part from the tip top to about 4 inches down
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ medium pot of water and ice
Mushrooms and Sauce
6 medium sized white mushrooms
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/5 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil spread
1/5 teaspoon lime juice
½ cup shitake mushroom stems
1 cup water
2 ounces diced carrots
2 ounces fresh water chestnuts
Put all the ingredients in a small pot. Use high heat and bring to boil. Set to low heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or reduce the liquid to about 1/2 cup full. Set aside.
In a medium pot, fill half of the pot with water and add sea salt and asparagus. Using high heat, bring to boil for 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove the asparagus and put them into pot with ice water to cool down for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
In a medium pan set to medium heat and add olive oil. Turn to high heat and add asparagus, garlic, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove and plate asparagus by setting 3 at the bottom, crossed by 3 on top.
Mushrooms and Sauce:
Set medium heat in a medium pan, and pour in vegetable oil. Add mushrooms and use a spoon to stir for 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons stock, garlic, vegetable oil spread, sea salt, and sugar. Keep stirring to reduce and thicken the sauce to a creamy setting, or for about 1 minute. Add lime juice. Turn off heat. Spoon over mushrooms next to the plated asparagus.
To serve, spoon over the shitake/carrot/chestnut sauce onto the asparagus and mushrooms and garnish with finely shredded carrots. Serve immediately.