I think asparagus is a little like that. It’s so vivid and slender and pretty. It tastes like early spring. You wouldn’t want to eat it all summer, but you do want to eat it now. I like it best lightly steamed with butter and lemon, but you can’t eat it that way every time! So I try different things. I’m not sure what made me think of this, and I’m not sure what it should be called. It’s not a custard, exactly. It reminds me of Stouffer’s Spinach soufflé. When I was a child, that was the special thing to have with our steak. It’s not a soufflé, because there’s no bechamel, and the eggwhites aren’t whipped. But it does feel special. It’s quite light, but substantial enough to serve in slices. It would be nice with a light tomato sauce or red pepper coulis, but it’s flavorful enough to serve as it is. And it’s quick to make!
In Blackalicious’ Green Light – Now Begin, they say,
No more of that sittin’ in a slump and uh
No more of that coulda-woulda-shoulda junk
No more of that waiting for the inspiration, innovation
Or a green light–now begin
1 bunch of asparagus
2 cups arugula leaves, washed and roughly chopped
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t fresh thyme (1 t dried)
1 T fresh tarragon, loosely packed, chopped (this is a lot, I know, it will be distinctly tarragon-y with this amount, and the flavor gets stronger when it’s baked, so feel free to cut down on the quantity!!)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 T flour
1/3 cup goat cheese
salt and plenty of pepper
preheat oven to 400
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and fry for a minute, then add the thyme and arugula. Cook till wilted, and set aside.
Chop the rough ends off the bottom of the asparagus and compost them. Cut the tips off at about an inch and save them. Roughly chop the stems. Boil a pot of salted water, drop the stems in, and boil them for about 8-10 minutes till they’re bright green and very soft. Remove with a slotted spoon, and let them drain. Drop the tips into the boiling water, and boil for a couple of minutes, till they’re bright green and still a bit crunchy. Set aside.
In a blender, combine the almonds and flour. Process till fairly well ground. Add the asparagus stems, arugula, tarragon, goat cheese and eggs, and process till light green and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Butter and flour a loaf pan. Pour the asparagus mixture in. Arrange the asparagus tips in a pretty pattern on top.
Bake for about 40 minutes, till the top is starting to brown and crack, and the whole thing is puffed.
Leave it to set and cool for 10-15 minutes. Then turn it out of the pan and serve in slices.