JUST HOLD on a little longer. The asparagus season is almost in full flower, which should mean a reduction in prices, one hopes below the 98-cents a pound price Grand Union was advertising last week, and certainly down from Giant's $1.19.
At the beginning of the season one doesn't usually care to do anything with asparagus beyond steaming them. By mid-season it's probably time to trot out a few recipes that involve a little more than steaming, but not too much. The point is to enjoy the flavor of the asparagus.
Whatever you do with asparagus, don't overlook them. They should NOT be limp and should NOT fold in half when held upright. SAUCE VINAIGRETTE FOR HOT ASPARAGUS (8 servings) 6 tablespoons olive oil or salad oil 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt 12 grinds of pepper mill 1 teaspoon dijon mustard 4 pounds fresh asparagus
Blend oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend in mustard. Beat with wire whisk. Refrigerate, if desired. To serve, return to room temperature and, just before pouring over asparagus, beat again with wire whisk.
To cook asparagus, break off tough ends, wash and cook over boiling water in a steamer, just until tender. Drain and pour dressing over hot asparagus. Serve immediately. ASPARAGUS WITH BREAD-CRUMB SAUCE (8 servings) 1/2 cup butter 4 tablespoons bread crumbs 4 pounds asparagus, cooked and drained
Melt butter; add crumbs. Cook and stir until crumbs are browned. Serve over hot asparagus. STIR-FRIED ASPARAGUS (2 servings) 1 pound asparagus 2 tablespoons peanut or corn oil Salt to taste 1/2 teaspoon sugar 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1 teaspoon water 1 teaspoon sesame oil
Break off and discard the tough end of each asparagus spear. Wash the asparagus thoroughly and drain well. Slice spears thinly on the diagonal and set aside. (You should have about 3 cups.)
Heat a wok until hot. Add the peanut or corn oil, then the asparagus, and stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the salt and sugar and sprinkle on the soy sauce and water. Stir and mix well for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle on sesame oil. Remove and serve hot.
Note: If the asparagus spears are not tender, add 1 more tablespoon of water, cover the pot and simmer for 1 minute longer.