Many say that asparagus grown in the peat soils of the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta is the best produced in the world. While asparagus from Mexico has been on the shelves for many weeks, the Delta grown product just started showing up at the end of March. It signals the real beginning of Spring in California.
This simple dish consists of asparagus, English peas and Trumpet mushrooms. I picked up both the asparagus and English peas several days prior at the farmer’s market and preparation of these was overdue. With the addition of a couple of Trumpet mushrooms from the grocer, a simple salad was prepared as a starter for a meal of Bucatini all’Amatriciana.
Preparation is simple. The asparagus and peas are blanched (in separate batches) in boiling, salted water for about five minutes or until done. Check these often along the way. The mushrooms are sautéed in butter with herbs and garlic until browned. These are then set aside to drain and cool.
To serve, the asparagus, English peas and mushrooms were arranged on a salad plate and dressed with a vinaigrette consisting of anchovies, garlic, Dijon mustard, champagne vinegar and olive oil. This is a great starter and provides a welcoming introduction to the spring season. The recipe serves two.
- 6 to 8 spears of asparagus with the woody lower half of the stalk removed
- 1-1/2 cups of shelled English peas
- 2 trumpet mushrooms sliced into thick coins
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 twigs of fresh thyme
- 1 small twig of fresh rosemary
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the vinaigrette
- 4 canned anchovy filets
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
- 2 to 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 4 to 6 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Bring 4 to 5 quarts of salted water to boil in a saucepan. Placed trimmed asparagus in the pan with boiling water for about 5 minutes checking often. The asparagus when done should still be bright green and have a little bit of crunch. Remove asparagus when done to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Place the shelled English peas in the boiling salted water for about 5 minutes. The peas when done should still be bright green, but should be tender all the way through. Remove to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process when done.
- Bring a sauté pan to a medium high temperature. Add two tablespoons of unsalted butter. When the butter is melted add the sliced mushrooms, crushed garlic, thyme and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste and sauté until lightly browned. Remove and set aside on a paper towel to drain.
- For the dressing place the anchovy filets, minced garlic and salt in a small bowl and using the back of spoon, crush these ingredients until combined in a paste. Add the mustard and vinegar and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Finish with fresh ground black pepper to taste.
- Arrange the asparagus, peas and mushrooms on a small salad plate. Spoon the dressing over the ingredients and serve.