May 9

Asparagus, Fennel, and Feta…oh, my!

1  comments

The Food and Drink section of last weekend’s Wall Street Journal had a fabulous Chefs at Home piece by Katy McLaughlin on Chef Douglas Keane, who owns Cyrus, in Napa Valley.

(Unfortunately, the to read the full article requires a Journal subscription, but after a long search, I was unable to find the article elsewhere.)

Mike saw the piece on Saturday morning, while sitting out on the sunny back patio, sipping a hot cup of Americano, and doing what he loves best to do on a Saturday morning: reading the weekend Journal.

I was inside, working on our Saturday brunch when he burst back into the kitchen waving the Food and Drink section. As soon as he flopped it down in front of me, I knew why. Pan-roasted Asparagus with Shaved Fennel, Feta, and Wilted Arugula.

Asparagus Fennel and FetaAbove almost all other foods, Mike loves fennel and a close second is asparagus, so this recipe had all the makings of a grand slam of a dish in his vegetable hall of fame. I think he had visions of my stopping what I was in the middle of cooking, shifting gears, and making it right then. And had I been able to, I might have, since it sounds like it would make a lovely brunch vegetable dish. But I couldn’t.

I was missing one of the star ingredients. Although both the stars of this dish are plentiful this time of year, we had, in fact, just returned from our weekly sojourn to the farmer’s market, where we had picked up some lovely fat asparagus, but hadn’t gotten any fennel. Most of the remainder of the ingredients–shallot, garlic, white wine, crushed red pepper, olive oil and lemon–I have on hand pretty much always. Beyond just the missing fennel, though, I also didn’t have any feta or arugula in the fridge, therefore, making the dish was going to necessitate a trip to our neighborhood Lazy Acres store to pick up those ingredients. So it was going to have to wait.

Dejected, he returned to his coffee and his paper. Tomorrow, he asked, turning his big baby browns plaintively my way? I smiled, not wanting to disappoint him further.

Unfortunately, I realized it couldn’t be Monday either; we had tickets to The Producers at the Broadway at the Arlington series. And not Tuesday, since we’d planned to grab a bite out before going to see a movie with a friend.

And Wednesday was out, too, because that’s choral rehearsal night and he’s on his own for dinner on Wednesdays when I have to go to rehearsal.

So, what I knew then, but didn’t say, was that poor Mike was going to have to wait until Thursday for his asparagus and fennel fix.

The recipe looks pretty foolproof. Saute some shallots and garlic until soft, add the asparagus and saute for a few minutes more, then deglaze the pan with a little white wine and let that cook out. Then you add the shaved fennel and cook until tender. At the very end, you just stir in the pepper flakes and wilt the arugula, then take it off the heat, toss in the feta, and squeeze a little lemon juice on it.

It couldn’t be simpler and I must say I agree that it looks perfectly scrumptious. I think I’ll break out a couple of grassfed steaks to grill and puree some cauliflower with melted butter and Boursin garlic and herb cheese to go along with it.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. Or maybe I’ll let Mike tell you; he can positively wax poetic about fennel.


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  1. Oooh, oooh! When’s dinner? I just love fennel and have several lovely bulbs ready for harvesting in my garden. And I just made my first batch of goat milk feta, but it needs another day or two in the brine, according to my recipe (I haven’t properly tasted it yet).

    But I am a bit too far away in San Diego. Drat. I hope you’ll post the recipe ’cause it looks like the WSJ isn’t sharing it with non-subscribers.

    Anna

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