Transformers.

No, not that kind.

I didn’t get home until late last night, dinnerless and fairly starved, so I wanted something quick (for instant-gratification purposes) and light (so I wouldn’t feel bogged down so close to bedtime). When I rediscovered a solitary bunch of asparagus that had been languishing in my crisper drawer for the better part of a week, I immediately thought of this no-fail preparation and realized that I could turn some past-their-peak vegetables into prime meal material.

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Close your eyes and imagine the most tender, delicate, fresh-from-the-garden asparagus; now, dial back on that expectation-knob a few notches.

For this recipe, you’ll  want something a little bit hardier; your vegetables have a robust marinade of Dijon and garlic and balsamic (oh, my!) with which to contend. Fortunately, all I had were these thick stalks, so I was in the clear.

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The recipe comes from a dear family friend, and it’s crazy-good and super-easy. Let’s hope she doesn’t mind me giving away her secrets like this.

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My asparagus wasn’t much worse for the time spent in the fridge—most of the tips had disintegrated into green slime, but the stems weren’t too bad. After a quick rinse to get rid of that nasty stuff at the ends, they were ready to go. Blanched for a few minutes in boiling water, dropped into an ice bath to stop the cooking at crisp-tender, then doused with this finger-lickingly addictive vinaigrette, my sorry spears were transformed into the epitome of easy, summertime cooking.

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I paired them with a little bit of quinoa and an extra drizzle of dressing, and I couldn’t have been more satisfied.

Rebekah’s Perfect Asparagus* Marinade

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 bunches asparagus

1. Combine all ingredients except for asparagus, whisk until salt and sugar have dissolved. Set aside.

2. Place asparagus in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, less for small spears. Drain, place in ice water for a few minutes, then drain on paper towels and pat dry.

3. Place in marinade and serve.

*A public-service announcement for those of you with excess CSA produce: This is extremely tasty on all sorts of vegetables. My favorite preparation, and one that I’ve used for numerous potlucks and barbecues, is to cut onions into wedges and red bell peppers into strips, then thinly slice some zucchini and eggplant. Toss ’em all with the marinade, let it soak in, and put everything on the grill for a few minutes—the smoky char adds another dimension to the classic flavors of the dressing. Serve as an antipasti plate, or chop into bite-size pieces, add some salty cheese (feta or goat cheese both work well), a few olives and a bit of the reserved marinade, and serve as a salad.

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2 thoughts on “Transformers.

  1. Patrick says:

    Quinoa!

  2. Matt says:

    Don’t sweat the Locavore pressure. I promise not to tell Alice Waters.

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