Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pass the Mayo

It's getting to be asparagus time.  I think asparagus is one those great vegetables.  With it's tall, usually slim shape and bright green color it couldn't be more elegant.  One of my favorite ways to make asparagus is to roast or lightly saute it and lay it over perfectly-scrambled eggs studded with red bell peppers, tomatoes, and chives. Add a generous amount of shaved Parmesan and roughly chopped chives and you have what I call my Sunday Eggs.  

My mom used to make an asparagus creme soup that has always remained in the recesses of my food mind.  I think it's just lovely added to tarts or quiche.  The way I'm going to talk about it today however isn't quite so posh.  But honestly, it's the first way I remember eating asparagus and for me that makes it classic. Mayonnaise haters: you better grab your weapons.

This all starts with being a kid.  For a long time growing up I don't think our weekday dinners were so hot.  They were quick and simple, sometimes from a box.  I think home finances in the early years probably had a lot to do with this because when it came time for the weekend, my Mom would pull out her good stuff.   She's always been the best hostess.  I don't remember a lot of our weekday dinners, but I do recall plenty of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese always served with peas and cottage cheese,  toast with an array toppings the most unusual being egg gravy, and asparagus with mayonnaise.  My mom grew up in asparagus fields so I never even thought to question whether this was a good idea or not.  My family were asparagus people, and if they ate theirs with mayonnaise then that was just what I was going to do too.  

The thing is, you might already be thinking how this weird or disgusting this sounds.  However, I think I need to paint a more detailed picture for you.  Again, going back to the 'early years', I don't think my Mom had the cooking skills she does now.  She had a little family to feed and that's what she did.  She didn't have loads of gourmet cookbooks lying around the way she does now.   Back then, her idea of cooking asparagus meant throwing it in a pan of boiling water and killing it slowly until it turned terribly limp, stringy, and the ugliest shade of grey with a hint of olive green.  Perhaps the mayonnaise is what made the asparagus edible at all.  In those days I didn't even know that asparagus could be cooked and end up crisp, tender, and bright green.  I just didn't know.  The funny thing is, I liked it that way.  Back then I did anyway.  

I can't believe it's been over a decade since I've made asparagus and served it with mayo.  To tell the truth, I'd forgotten all about it until recently.  So one night last week, I went all the way back...

You could serve this alongside roast chicken or a nice piece of salmon.  I have to admit, when I made it, it didn't do for what it did back then.  It was good enough though and I just wanted to tell you about it.


as much asparagus as you need to feed the ones you love
mayonnaise, preferably Best Foods if you want to be traditional here
good salt and fresh black pepper
olive oil

Wash and snap the asparagus to get it pan-ready.  Fill and appropriately-sized serving dish with mayonnaise.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat, once hot, drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil in and throw asparagus into pan.  Shake the pan often and vigorously to coat the sticks in the oil and cook them quickly and evenly.  They might take on a tad bit of color.  They should be shiny and bright green.  Cook them until they are the consistency that you prefer, al dente, tender, or dead and limp.  Quickly sprinkle on salt and pepper and serve with a nice spoonful of mayo.  


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