I posted a little while back about an asparagus side dish (Asparagus, Fennel, and Feta) that Mike had found the recipe for in the Wall Street Journal. I had promised let you know if it wound up being as good as it looked to be, so true to my word, here’s the scoop: it’s quite a tasty side dish.
Mike, as I said, loves asparagus and fennel, so I’m always looking for new ways to prepare these veggies, although there’s nothing I like better than a big platter of big fat asparagus just given a rub with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, roasted in a hot oven, and then tossed ever so lightly in a pat of creamy fresh butter left to melt on the hot roasting pan the minute you take it out of the oven; roasted spears and Cream of Asparagus soup are my two favorite preparations.
Asparagus are at their peak the moment they’re cut, however, and begin to wilt and lose both flavor and freshness quickly. Left bound in their thick rubber bands as they come from the store or farmer’s market and dumped into the veggie bin in the refrigerator, they’ll soon begin to shrivel and fade.
My sister reminded me of a method to keep them fresh and firm longer in the cold box: treat them like the florist treats cut flowers by placing their cut ends into a ‘vase’ of water. I use one of those tall, quart-sized, plastic disposable containers made for storing things such as soup that you can now purchase cheaply in the grocery store; they’re just the perfect size to hold a big bunch of asparagus.
I wash the asparagus in my handy dandy ultrasonic vegetable washer, then just as with cut flowers, I trim just a bit off the stem end and stand the stalks upright in water.
In place of the lid, I put a zip closure bag over the tops of the stalks to keep the humidity in.
Stored this way, the asparagus keep beautifully for much longer, ready at a moment’s notice to roast, grill, blanche, saute, or stir-fry.