Spring is the time to eat fresh asparagus. We’ve been seeing this delicate and often misunderstood vegetable everywhere lately: at the supermarket and specialty food shops, in farmers’ markets and discount grocers; even at Costco. This is one of those foods that children turn their noses up at (at least that’s what I used to do when I was young.) Perhaps the issue is the unusual shape? Or, maybe it’s the flavor, which is very distinct, though yummy, that takes some people time to adjust to. Whatever it is, now’s the time to get over it!
I threw this dish together the other day while preparing Roman tomato pasta, one of my perennial favorites. It’s handy to make the two together because you can use the boiling water for pasta to cook the asparagus. Thus you save a pot and more clean up.
The lemon zest makes this especially aromatic without distracting from the asparagus-ness of the dish.
Fresh Asparagus with Kalamata Olives and Meyer Lemon Zest
1 large handful fresh asparagus
12 kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half
Zest form one Meyer lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Olive oil to taste
If asparagus has woody bases, remove these before cooking. If they are thick, using a potato peeler, remove some of the outer layers at the base of each stalk.
To blanch, first boil asparagus until just tender, about 3 to 5 minutes, then immediately throw in an ice water bath. This stops cooking and keeps both the texture right and the color fresh.
Toss with the other ingredients and serve at room temperature as a salad, appetizer or side dish.