Green Two Ways: A Hit & A Miss

April 5, 2008

asparagus1.jpg

Sometimes it works out that the a recipe that turns out to be delicious just doesn’t photograph all that well. And, then, of course, there are the finished products that are plenty photogenic, yet lackluster when it comes to taste (yesterday’s focaccia ringing any bells?). Today, I’m sharing two recipes, one in each of these two categories.

spinach-soup.jpg

Let’s start with the ugly. Well, actually, “ugly” only in the sense that I have thrown out the recipe (and the leftovers) and deleted the link from my semi-out-of-control recipe spreadsheet. This deeply, brilliantly green soup you see here here jumped out at me from the pages of last month’s Eating Well, magazine. The hue and the flavors just seemed too springy to resist. So I whipped up a pot, delighting in the smell of the rosemary, the healthy promise of the spinach and, of course, the color. But it just fell flat. The flavors were muted and kind of muddy tasting. I managed to spruce it up by adding tiny diced (really tiny: 1/8 inch) sauteed potatoes, shreds of smoked turkey that I warmed quickly in a dry pan and a hefty dallop of Fage yogurt. That all detracted from the pristine puree that had allured me in the first place, but—hey—at least it was edible.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipes.)

asparagus2.jpg

And then we have this humble asparagus recipe, which I’m pleased to tell you is much more delicious than it looks. Because my market is void of almost all the spring produce (except asparagus) that everyone else seems to already have, I have been buying asparagus at an alarming rate and using it every which way I can. It hasn’t showed up at dessert yet, but, frankly, I wouldn’t put it past me. I’ve used this recipe twice in the 10 days since I found it—and that’s saying something. It’s an interesting use for asparagus, both visually (cut into 1/2-inch segments) and flavor-wise (what would otherwise be a plain Jane soy sauce/ginger/garlic-based sauce gets an unexpected lift from a splash of Scotch, of all things). And while it might not be the most gorgeous thing I’ve photographed, it is entirely delicious.

After two disappointing recipes this week—the focacccia and this soup—here’s hoping for better luck next week! I’m working on a blondie recipe that I think will help …

Recipe for the Spinach Soup is here.

Steamed Asparagus with Ginger Garlic Sauce
Gourmet

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry or Scotch*
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh gingerroot
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted lightly

In a steamer set over boiling water, steam asparagus, covered, until just crisp-tender, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well.

In a 1-cup measure, stir together cornstarch and water until dissolved and stir in soy sauce, Sherry or Scotch, sugar, salt and sesame oil.

Heat a wok or large heavy skillet over high heat until hot and add vegetable oil. Heat vegetable oil until hot but not smoking and stir-fry gingerroot and garlic 30 seconds. Add asparagus and stir-fry 30 seconds. Stir cornstarch mixture and add to asparagus. Bring liquid to a boil, stirring, and stir-fry mixture until asparagus is well coated. Sprinkle asparagus with sesame seeds and toss.

* I used Scotch both times I’ve had this and I highly recommend it.

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7 Responses to “Green Two Ways: A Hit & A Miss”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    I hear ya on the asparagus…it’s the only thing remotely spring-like in our market, too. Sprinkled with sesame seeds and stir-fried with the Asian sauce sounds like a nice departure from what I usually do with the spears (roast them.) –Amy

  2. Helen Says:

    I think that asparagus looks rather lovely – maybe it’s just me then! I’ve never eaten it like this before. I am craving spring produce too, it is snowing here today.

  3. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Amy: I guess we’ll just have to be patient for the non-asparagus offerings. Which is unfortunate because patience really isn’t my strong suit.

    Helen: Thank you! I’m sorry to hear you had snow. My grandparents, who live near Canada, had the same unfortunate turn of events this weekend. I feel for you all!

  4. Robin Says:

    I always love a good asparagus recipe.

    And I find pureed green soups to be very difficult and mostly not impressive. Actually I can’t think of even one that I like. Oh well.

  5. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Robin: Agreed on the green soups. By the way, your trip sounded so fun — glad you had a good time (and good tuna).

  6. Michele Says:

    Can I use cooking sherry?
    Is there a particular brand of sherry or scotch I should use?
    Thank you!

  7. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Hi Michele: I would not use cooking sherry. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend buying a bottle of Scotch for this recipe alone, since you’ll only need a tablespoon. I used Glenlivet, but that’s because we already had it on hand. I think you could get away with a glug of sherry vinegar or dry Marsala or even a glug of white wine—all of which you’re more likely to use again in a recipe.


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