Green grow the spears

I have an intense relationship with asparagus. It’s in my kitchen nearly constantly for the scant few weeks that I can find it. Grilled or oven-roasted, with only a little olive oil and salt, that’s perfection. But I do seek change occasionally. On Sunday, I made super-simple cold marinated asparagus.

First, be sure to steam or boil the asparagus only until it’s bright green. Go any farther, and you’ll have limp mush. This will take mere minutes. The dressing started with olive oil, lemon juice and a dash of white wine vinegar. I added about a half teaspoon of dried lemon peel (you could use freshly grated lemon zest, but I had the dried on hand and it was quick) and generous shakes of a dried-herb seasoning blend that contains chives, basil, tarragon and dill, plus salt and pepper. I toasted about a tablespoon of sesame seeds and chopped up two green onions. While the cooked asparagus (asparagi?) was still warm, I tossed it with the dressing and sprinkled on the onions and sesame seeds. I chilled the mixture for a couple of hours and served it cold.

I will say it again, if you’re using asparagus in a cold salad or marinating it, do not overcook it. Even a little undercooked is OK. I was thinking a cold rice salad with asparagus might be nice, maybe with red bell peppers and Asian touches, like sesame oil.

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