Our CSA’s season started last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I feel totally reinvigorated on the cooking front knowing that each week’s box of fresh produce will challenge me to think of how I can pair items together in new and creative ways and not waste a single thing. So in that spirit, I’m going to set aside my backlog of blog posts and try to be more timely in blogging about the dishes that I make with my CSA produce in order to help anyone out there who is looking for ideas for what to do with the produce that they’re getting from their own CSA. I’ll even add more vegetable or fruit specific categories that you’ll see listed at the bottom of the home page to help any fellow CSA supporters pull out recipe ideas. So let’s get started!
Last week here in Seattle, we finally got some of that amazing Pacific Northwest summer weather that allows me to otherwise tolerate living here for the rest of the year. Temps above 70 degrees, sunny skies, soft breezes– I couldn’t help but feel like grilling every day. Instead, I settled on grilling to celebrate the arrival of our first CSA box for the season. Among the items was a bunch of bright green, crunchy chives. With some asparagus leftover in my fridge and a lonely orange sitting in the fruit bowl, I decided to throw the asparagus on the grill and top it with a slice of a compound butter made from the chives, some orange zest and some thyme from our garden.
Plan put into action: I mixed together a little softened butter with the herbs and zest while I melted 1 more tablespoon of the softened butter in the microwave. This was drizzled over the asparagus in lieu of olive oil thanks to a tip from a recent Cooks Illustrated that instructed that the sugars and lower smoke point in butter help to caramelize asparagus on the grill faster than olive oil. When grilled with the latter, the asparagus will get overcooked and soggy by the time you get any kind of desired, smoky char on the outside. I also tossed the asparagus with some garlic powder and a little salt and pepper. Once removed from their brief time on the grill, these asparagus had plenty of snap but a delicious, crispy, slightly charred exterior. The slice of compound butter melted a little over the warm asparagus and in addition to brightening the asparagus with sunny citrus and fresh herbs, it somehow made the asparagus feel silky, a little luxuriant in mouth feel. Plus, how can you say no to such a pretty picture of bright green, soft yellow, and little threads of gorgeous orange colors?
- Three tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper
- 1 bunch of slender asparagus
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
In a small bowl, mix together with a fork two tablespoons of softened butter, the orange zest, chives, and thyme. Add a tiny pinch of salt. Scrape butter out onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a small cylinder while you wrap the butter up tightly. Place in fridge to harden while you finish making asparagus.
Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small microwave safe bowl, about 15-20 seconds on half power. Place asparagus, trimmed of their woody ends, in a Pyrex dish. Drizzle butter over asparagus and sprinkle with garlic powder, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper. Mix together with your hands. Grill over direct heat with the lid down for about 3-4 minutes. Open the lid, flip the asparagus over and continue to grill for another 2-3 minutes with the lid open or until you see some light char on the asparagus. Remove and plate your servings, topped with a thin slice of the compound butter.
CSA Count: 1
Garden Count: 1
(Okay– I know that’s a sad count for the first entry of this season, but this was served with burgers that had a pesto condiment which boosts the CSA count and will be blogged about soon.)