I get very excited when asparagus season arrives. It heralds the arrival of heaps of exciting fresh produce over the coming season, not to mention the absolute deliciousness of asparagus itself.
I ate my first asparagus of the season a couple of days ago, very appropriately on my birthday. I bought it from our local greengrocer, which is something i seldom do, as the best way to buy it around here is direct from the grower. The asparagus from the vege man was an expensive, small bunch, probably picked a couple of days earlier. When i buy from one of our local growers i get a kilo at a time, and know it has been picked the same day. The day after my birthday i had to go to Christchurch, and on the way home i called in to my favourite asparagus grower, a Thai ex-pat who sells free-range eggs, and cherries and asparagus in season. I got a kilo of beautiful fresh stalks (you get to choose if you want thin spears, fat spears or a mix of both... i usually go for the thin spears) for $12. Heaven!
This is another 101 Cookbooks recipe - the first recipe i ever used from that blog. I should warn you right now, however, that it is only a ten minute recipe if you happen to have pre-cooked brown rice. Heidi suggests having a stash of pre-cooked, frozen brown rice in the freezer, but i tend to just make the 40 minute version of this recipe and cook my rice as required. I'm bad enough at having pots of things in the freezer, without adding to my list of "things i need to use up" by cooking up something that stores perfectly well in the cupboard in its dry form. Pots in the freezer are generally reserved for items of produce that will go off if not frozen for later use.
The chickpeas can be from a can, or soaked and cooked. The chickpeas i used actually were from my freezer - because they take such a long time to cook they are something i do sometimes cook a big amount of, and freeze in cup-sized batches. I just have to remember they are in the freezer and make use of them!
10 MINUTE TASTY ASPARAGUS AND BROWN RICE
Heidi Sawnson, '101 Cookbooks'
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups of cooked/canned chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
3 cups of cooked brown rice
1 cup of almond slivers, toasted
chopped parsley - as much as you like
1/4 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Whisk all dressing ingredients together, adding the hot water and salt last.
Put olive oil in a fry pan on high heat. Add chickpeas and salt. Let beans saute a couple of minutes (get some crusty colour on them). They will hiss and pop. Add the onions and garlic, turn the heat down a bit and stir for two or three minutes. Stir in the asparagus with a pinch or two of salt, cover with a lid for a minute or two to steam - just until the asparagus brightens and softens. Uncover, stir in the rice and almonds, reserving a few for garnish. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Stir parsley through. Serve in a big bowl drizzled with dressing; let people add more dressing to taste.