I look forward to asparagus season for most of the year. I love their sweet, stringy flesh, that they are one of the first new veggies to eat of the year, and that they seem special even when prepared simply. But the reason I really, really like them? They take three years to grow your own (to establish the root system before you hack their little heads off every subsequent spring), so they require patience. These veggies need stability, a home, and some time to settle in. I guess I identify a little.
Asparagus have been showing up every week for a month in my CSA box (along with some odd herbs I've not used...until now), so we've had some time together.
But I've been eating them differently this year. Usually I smother them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and let them cook quickly under a very hot broiler until their tips are crisp-fried and their long bodies are spotted with toasted caramel. This year I'm trying out new things, like butter. Butter is not new, but it is very new to my asparagus. Trow in some hot-sauce and lemon juice and we have three startling playmates for my homebody friends.
As is usual, I was inspired by Ms. Swanson, who, as usual was inspired by someone else. I took the hot-sauce butter and my asparagus season is history. That's all I want put on them.
I am thinking this is also somewhat reflective of my life right now. I am making peace with this California sun. And what better way to fight fire but with more fire--this time from the inside out. Bring it on!
This is not that innovative, I admit. But I feel kind of rebellious making quiche spicy. I would never have thought about it had I not had the leftover butter annoyingly taking up room in the fridge. I might have opened a dangerous door here...the wondrous world of hot-sauce.
Asparagus Hot-Sauce Quiche
I used Louisiana-style hot-sauce, but others would be nice too.
1/4 cup Butter Recipe*
2 bundles asparagus, stemmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
1 small sprig winter savory
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
dash of salt
sprinkling of pepper
creme fraiche and more hot sauce if you so desire, for serving
1/2 a whole grain pie crust recipe, rolled out and chilled in a regular-sized pie plate
Cook asparagus over medium high heat in the butter until tender, set aside. Lightly beat eggs with the heavy cream, winter savory, salt, and pepper. Line pie crust with the cheese, top evenly with cooked and at least slightly cooled asparagus, and pour egg mixture over the top. If it seems there is too much liquid, bake extra in a separate dish. Bake at 375 degrees until set, about 35 minutes. Top with the creme fraiche and a drizzle of hot sauce on each serving. Enjoy!
*Butter Recipe: Mix in a food processor 1/2 cup softened butter, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and about a teaspoon hot-sauce. Whirl until combined. If some of the juice doesn't incorporate, don't stress out. Don't melt butter either. Just breath and realize that butter and hot sauce usually don't mix so well...(I tried the mixing it by hand and it was a disaster. Do not try mixing by hand and still think the liquid will do much incorporating. Follow Heidi's advice and use the processor, or follow mine and just use the butter and add a little of the juice.)