Our local asparagus is in, despite weather so tiresome that we can barely stand to make small talk about it. It seems that we shifted from winter to summer overnight, and the asparagus was there, pushing its way out of the muck. Kudos, asparagus! Huzzah and hooray for your insistent upward movement.
So I’m at first blush of love with my asparagus, still savoring it nearly naked, not ready to throw it in a pasta to be drowned out by garlic and chiles. I want to hear it speak, whispering something about rebirth, and renewal, and relentlessness.
Especially relentlessness. We all need a touch of that in this world.
So today I opted to go with the old-school purity of a Japanese walnut sauce for my asparagus. I’m sure I lifted a version of this from one of my Japanese cookbooks, and then did my American thing and added more of everything. But I kept it to the same ingredients. I held back from throwing in ginger, or pepper flakes, or miso or something. I tried to be still.
So I hope you will take a moment to be still and let your spring vegetables speak. Be here now, and all that.
It will all be over before we know it!
Asparagus in Walnut Sauce
You could grill this, to keep from heating up the house. I broiled the asparagus, but steaming would be fine, as long as you don’t overcook it. If you want to get a little creative, try a different nut, like pecans or pistachios. It will be delicious.
1 bunch asparagus
oil for pan
1/2 cup walnut halves and pieces
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon raw sugar
2 teaspoons sake
water to thin
1. Preheat the broiler or grill, and put the trimmed asparagus spears on a sheet pan. Drizzle with oil and roll around to coat.
2. In a large saute pan, toast the walnuts or other nuts over medium high heat, stirring and shaking the pan constantly. When the nuts are toasted and oily, transfer to a food processor bowl. Grind to a paste. Add the soy sauce, sugar and sake and process, then scrape down. Add water by the tablespoon until a thick paste is produced.
3. Broil or grill the asparagus until the tips are toasty looking and the skins are wrinkled. Serve drizzled with sauce.