Saturday, May 28, 2011

Asparagus Dip

There is only a small window of time in the year in which we can all enjoy the wonders of fresh asparagus. Yes, I know, it is one of those food items we can find in a regular grocery store all year round – I get it. But it is also one of those food items that, when harvested and eaten fresh and in-season, completely blows the always-available version out of the water. I want you all to experience this difference. And now is our window.

First, find local asparagus at your nearest Farmers’ Market. Buy a double amount that you think you want or need. Then, prepare the first half so simply it seems silly. Olive oil, salt, pepper, in the oven or on the grill only long enough until it just turns bright green. Munch. Devour. Be blown away.

Then, you can get a bit more creative with your second half since you’ll be hooked. Enter: Asparagus Dip. This involves a similar very quick cooking process as it was with your first batch. Only here, the asparagus is placed in boiling water and cooked just until bright green and then dunked into ice water to stop the cooking process and retain that beautiful color (this is called ‘blanching’). Then, you add that and a lot of other easy and delicious ingredients into a food processor, turn it on, and voila; Dip.

At the market (see the Spiced Rhubarb Chutney post for more details about my Farmers' Market season) I was describing this dip as a “lighter, cheaper, and local guacamole”. It’s delicate, but still bright with flavor, and would be a star on an appetizer plate with veggies and crackers. I myself was craving it on a burger with lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese. But that’s just me. Give it a taste and your tongue will tell you what it wants to pair it with.

Do whatever you see fit with this dip, but at least do me the favor of making it and serving it up for Memorial Day celebrations. Seasonal Eating Haven has arrived, and we have to kick it off right.

Asparagus Dip
I fancied adding a bit of herbage to this base recipe - cilantro and chive. Parsley would work great here too.


2 cups asparagus, about 1 lb. (my asparagus came from Thistle Whistle farm in Paonia, CO! I've written about Mark's amazing farm and vegetables in my 'An Unbeetable Meal' post both here, and on Local in Season)
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 tsp. onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 tomato chopped
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/3 cup sour cream
dash hot sauce

1. Blanch and shock asparagus.
2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Transfer into another bowl and chill overnight.
4. Serve cold and enjoy.

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