Johnny Cash and I have something in common, besides Tennesee whiskey. We both love June. Always have. For him, June Carter Cash. Fiercely. There was no death do us part for those two, I’m sure of it. As for me, June is simply June, the dearly beloved month of June.
Both Junes are easy to get excited over. This month in particular. Michigan grins are stretched with hyperbole wandering backyards and downtown streets, the sun warming our shoulders, feeling the love. My son (who never calls unless there’s a problem) phoned yesterday to tell me he was happy. That’s it. Happy. Wow.
“To be this happy in Michigan borders on insanity,” wrote Phoebe Nobles in her hilarious essay, Asparagus Superhero, published in Salon (April, 2007), and included in the anthology, Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant.
“…The old winter depression bordered on insanity too. Living in a place of lesser contrast, how would you know what it feels like to come back from the dead?” I quote that last line to my friends down South who ask how I could suffer through our winters.
I wonder how Ms. Nobles felt about this past winter, if the winter of ’07 didn’t scare her off for good. I remember that winter. It wasn’t that frightening, but then again, last winter raised the bar. But this blog’s not about that yawning polar vortex, those death-dyfying temperatures. And it’s not about June. It’s about asparagus – glorious harbinger of better months ahead. Raw, steamed, roasted and grilled, Ms. Nobles ate asparagus as if she were “…savoring each minute of spring.”
Asparagus is late to town this year but at last – carpe diem! – they’re back. Over the years I’ve celebrated asparagus season in a number of recipes, some elaborate, some simply garnished with morning dew, fresh after picking. The following recipe, though not quite as simple, can be made in a few minutes. Crumbled gorgonzola could be subbed for or added to the grated egg. Here are some other favorite recipes I’ve enjoyed in asparagus seasons past.
Tempura Asparagus, though obscenely good, takes some time and is best for fat spears. Procuitto-Wrapped Asparagus with Crumbled Blue Cheese is simple to execute and perfect for entertaining. Fresh Asparagus Soup with Herb Croutons, Picasso in a bowl, is hands down my favorite asparagus recipe – I make it every year. You may use whatever mushrooms you have on hand for this Omelet with Asparagus, Morels and Goat Cheese dish. If you’re looking for a make-ahead, crowd pleasing side dish, Asparagus Bread Pudding has your number. Spring Green Risotto (with asparagus) and Asparagus, Morel and Fiddlehead Fern Gratin are emeralds in the asparagus crown.
Raise your shot glass to asparagus. June, too.