Tag Archive for 'asparagus'

Asparagus Soup and Broad Bean & Pecorino Bruschetta

Spring time has finally arrived and with that my beloved broad (fava) beans. I dived into my thick hedge of broad beans the other day and found a handful of beans that were just big enough to be harvested. Of course, most of you will know that you need to harvest far more than a handful in order to make a meal for a family of five. So I went out and searched the markets and stores and finally got lucky. I bought 3 kilos (6.5 lbs) worth, which turned out exactly 700g (1.5 lbs) of beans. Almost the entire family was involved in the podding, which wasn’t so bad in the warm afternoon sun on the patio. Now, unfortunately, with broad beans the work isn’t exactly done with the podding. Unless the beans are very small and tender, it’s best to peel the tough skin of each bean after they have been cooked or steamed. I thought I could get away without, but decided half-way through cooking dinner, that I wouldn’t be so lucky. Never mind the little extra effort, the result more than made up for it.

The first dinner I cooked was ‘Tagliatelle with Broad Beans, Pecorino and Parma Ham’. It was good, but the recipe needs a bit more tweaking before I can post it.

However, the next evening, I still had 200g (7oz.) of podded beans left and decided to turn them into the enticing looking bruschetta I saw in the ‘Delicious’ magazine that same day. I got a loaf of panini, which I cut in slices brushed with oil, toasted and rubbed with garlic, before topping them with the broad bean mixture. They turned out magnificent, the flavors of the beans, mixed with garlic, pecorino, olive oil and rosemary exploding in my mouth. What a wonderful way to welcome springtime back into our lives. 

Yesterday was also the first day the organic asparagus grower returned to my local farmers market. Excited to see him, I invested in over a kilo of asparagus in various sizes and colors. Nursing yet another cold, I felt like soup and decided to use the beautiful asparagus to make it. A pot of chicken stock had been simmering on my stove for most of the day, after I had found some frozen chicken carcasses in the back of my freezer. I finally gave in and cleaned it in the morning, after coming to the conclusion that it looked like an igloo with more and more icy snow accumulating and leaving less and less space for all things frozen. Hence the decision to cook yet another batch of stock, especially now that I have the extra freezer space to fill. I used about 5 cups of it in my soup, which gave it the perfect base, but any vegetable stock would be good as well.

Broad Beans and Pecorino Bruschetta 

 

adapted from a recipe in the October 2010 edition of ‘delicious’ magazine

Serves 5

Ingredients

900 g (2 lbs.) fresh broad beans, podded (equalling 200-250g or 1/2 lb.)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 rosemary sprigs

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped, plus 1 extra clove, halved

100 g (3.5 oz.) Pecorino Romano, shaved

8-10 thick slices of ciabatta or other crusty bread

Sea salt and fresh pepper

Method

Prepare an ice water bath.

Blanch broad beans in boiling water for 3 minutes, then plunge into ice water to prevent them from cooking any further. Drain and squeeze beans out of skins by giving them a slight pinch. Set aside.

Warm olive oil, garlic and rosemary in small pot over very low heat. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, careful not to brown the garlic. Stir occasionally. This will infuse the oil with the amazing aroma of garlic and rosemary.

Take out the thicker rosemary stems, leaving a few of the leaves behind. Add the broad beans, 1 tablespoon of water, 1 teaspoon of fresh sea salt and a pinch of fresh pepper. Turn the heat to medium and cook beans for a couple of minutes until bright green.

Place a wire colander over a bowl and put bean mixture into colander. Make sure you capture all the oil, which you will need for brushing the bread.

Brush the slices of bread on both sides with the bean oil, then toast or grill for a few minutes on each side. Rub with halved garlic.

Check the seasoning of the beans, before putting about a tablespoon on each toasted bread. Top with sliced cheese and serve immediately. 

Silky Asparagus Soup

 

Serves 5

Ingredients

500g (1 lb, 2 oz.) fresh asparagus, woody ends trimmed and spears cut into 3 cm (1 inch) pieces

1 large onion, diced

1 stick celery, diced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons cream

sea salt and fresh pepper

5 cups (1.2 liters) chicken stock

Method

Sautee onion, celery and garlic on low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Add asparagus, leaving a few tips for decoration, and bay leaf.

Sautee for a few more minutes before adding the chicken stock. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, steam the asparagus tips lightly in a steamer basket. Set aside.

When the asparagus in the soups is cooked, blend the soup either by using an immersion blender, or in batches in the blender. Don’t fill the blender too much, as hot liquid will expand when blended.

Return blended soup to pot over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of cream, 1 teaspoon fresh sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with a few asparagus tips.