Broiled Asparagus

Where am I?  Where have I been?  For a long time, running to stand still, now working on getting better…

Our meals got a lot simpler over the last year.  As I got sicker and sicker, Michael took over more and more of the cooking.  For most of the past year, he did all of it.  It’s only now that I’m cooking the occasional dinner all myself (on a slow day where I haven’t had much exertion) or helping him by making some part of it.

This has been a strange experience for someone who defines herself so much in terms of her relationship with food.

But I am making the occasional thing or two here and there.  I made chickpeas tonight, really simple chickpeas, dressed with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.  They’re the best, but it’s nearly impossible to write a recipe for them – I’ll have to try harder on my measurements next time.  The bane of the done-it-a-million-times cook – just put in enough of each.

Michael made asparagus.  When we lived in Michigan, the first month of the farmer’s market (May) was asparagus month, and we bought a lot of it and made ourselves totally sick on it, cooking it every which way.  I love it steamed or sautéed, but there’s nothing that beats this recipe for ease.  It gets wilty and slightly crisp and toasted at the tips.  Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds or slivered almonds over it if you want to look like you Did Something.

Some people have asparagus cookers.  These are little pots about the size for Cannibal Barbie to cook up one of her friends.  I am not a believer in Pots for One Purpose, so I scorn the asparagus pot. The point of them is that the stems cook in a little bit of water and the thinner tips cook in the steam.  Eh.

I do the snap-the-end off bit with asparagus, though I think it probably takes off more than is absolutely necessary.  (When I am snapping asparagus I always wish that broccoli stalks could be snapped off at the tender point with just such a maneuver, negating the need for stalk-peeling, certainly among the worst vegetable-prep jobs.)  When you bring asparagus home, cut a little bit off the ends and put it in a glass with a little water in the fridge, then toss a bag over it.  That way you’ll be surprised and delighted by your little fridge bouquet every time you open the door to drink out of the milk carton and your asparagus will stay fresher.

Ingredients:

2 bunches asparagus (well, you could make it with one, but the broiling reduces the volume a lot, and seriously, the stuff is only really in season for a little while, so you might as well go to town), ends trimmed

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper (afterward)

Turn the broiler on, and place a rack on the top position. Take your big ol’ cookie sheet with a rim (I use a jelly roll pan, which has never seen a jelly roll in its life) and lay the trimmed asparagus on it in a reasonably neat fashion. Drizzle with a little olive oil (a little, okay?  Remember this stuff is going to lose volume as it cooks, so you don’t need as much as you might think, unless you are going after reproducing that study I read this week that says people who follow a Mediterranean diet live longer. In that case, load the asparagus up with oil and have some baklava too) and sprinkle with salt. Pop it under the broiler, and check it every minute or so. When it gets pleasantly wrinkly but still green, pull it out and with your tongs (use the gentle forcep-like kind, not the salad-bar kind) flip each spear over. Back under the broiler until the same result is achieved on the other side. Remove.  Dust with a little pepper.  Congratulate yourself for hardly breaking a sweat making asparagus (unless you leaned too close to the broiler).

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