Spring is asparagus season. I know, I know, you can get asparagus year ’round at the grocery store, but nothing compares to fresh, local asparagus. See, all vegetables have sugars and once harvested those sugars begin converting to starch. Some sugars are more unstable than other. Like corn. We’ve all heard about the farm boiling water before even going out to pick the corn, right? Well, modern corn sugars are more stable but I’d still eat that farm-fresh corn from the weekend market by Tuesday and save veggies like peppers and zucchini for later in the week.
Asparagus sugars are also really unstable. In fact, in 3 hours at 80 F, about 50% of asparagus’ sugars will convert to starch. Even cooled for storage, that just doesn’t bode well for asparagus shipped up from Mexico or Peru. So when I can get asparagus locally in the spring I really load up on it. I bring home bunches and bunches each week until my husband says “no more.” Then I bring home a little more.
With so much asparagus around I always need more recipes, more ways to keep it interesting during these scant six weeks of spring time joy. And that, my friends, led to asparagus Piccata. Piccata is an Italian dish – typically flour-dredged chicken or veal in a lemon-butter sauce with capers. With local spring asparagus tasting sweet as English peas, the tart lemon, bitter capers and rich butter seemed like a perfect pairing.
And now I have one more recipe for precious spring asparagus.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound, trimmed in 2” pieces
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbs capers
- 1 tbs chopped basil
- 1 tbs butter
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Warm olive oil in a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add asparagus and cook until tender outside, still crisp in the middle.
- Add white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, basil and butter. Toss together and let cook while butter melts.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and an additional splash of lemon juice, or oil to balance acidity. Top with freshly grated cheese.