This is the season for asparagus and if you’re lucky enough to have your own bed pick them when they are showing about four inches above the soil (three inches will remain below soil). If you’re buying them in a store make sure they sit very cold or refrigerated or at least standing in a pool of cold water. Store asparagus for not more than a day in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator with their stem end wrapped in wet paper towels.
Many people serve asparagus as an appetizer at room temperature and there’s nothing wrong with that. However they make for a delicious vegetarian dinner when cooked with mushrooms as in this recipe.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
1 pound portobello mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups red wine or water (more if necessary)
Freshly grated ricotta salata cheese
1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat then cook the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic for 3 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour in 1 cup wine, increase the heat to high, and cook for 20 minutes, adding lesser and lesser amounts of the remaining wine or water, to keep the food moist. When the asparagus are almost cooked put no more liquid in the pan and leave it to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and they are tender. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately with grated ricotta salata.
Makes 2 dinner servings or 4 antipasto servings