I held this asparagus up to the sky in order to improve the background of my photo, but it was also a slightly triumphant moment. Not that I have any real right to feel a sense of triumph regarding asparagus grown not by me, but by friend and farmer Daniel Oles. Still, there is something innately celebratory about that first bunch of spring asparagus. This year it’s coming in early, a good sign for our growing season if the frost stays away. For the last month I have gorged myself on ramps, where each garlicky bite tastes of renewal and earth, but as much as I enjoy them, they are an accompaniment for the most part. By comparison, asparagus is hefty and more satisfying–even when it’s pencil thin.
I am looking forward to an asparagus-filled May. I prefer my asparagus to taste of, well, asparagus, so I avoid the heavy hollandaise and butter sauces the pros of yesteryear used to smother it with. Here’s my favorite way to prepare it–and if you don’t have access to farm fresh asparagus, where it is pulled from the ground and never requires the application of heat–well, we need to do something about that. This sandwich would be ruined by asparagus that had spent even a second in a steaming pan of water, so use only the most delicate and tender stalks, fresh and at room temperature–or better yet, still warm from the sun. You won’t regret it.
Fresh Asparagus Sandwich
Good quality crusty bread
Farm fresh asparagus, raw
Fresh mayo (if you don’t have time to make it yourself, at least buy the good stuff)
Shavings of good quality Parmesan cheese (excellent substitution: ricotta insalta)
Freshly ground pepper
Boston lettuce leaves or baby Arugula
Assemble and enjoy. Another delicious way to enjoy this is to toast the bread, nix the mayo and add a freshly fried egg.