Saturday, February 28, 2015

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

I’ve broken the barrage of beige!  This is the first green thing I’ve posted here, and I think it’s very seasonally appropriate.  The freakishly warm February weather has made it feel like spring, and asparagus was a very good price at the store, which prompted me to revisit this recipe.  It has become my go-to way of preparing asparagus.  I’m likely to be a fan of any oven-browned vegetable, and when you throw in crispy golden bits of garlic and toasty asparagus tops that remind me of popcorn, well…let’s just say one batch doesn’t stretch as far as it might otherwise.

If you look closely, you might notice the asparagus become less numerous with each picture. I'm not sure how that happened...

 Fun fact: asparagus is a source of inulin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic, meaning it stimulates healthy bacterial growth in the lower GI.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus

½ a bunch of asparagus (about 8-9 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450°F. Wash asparagus spears and cut about ¼ inch off of the bottom.  Using a peeler (Kuhn Rikon ones work especially well for this), peel the fibrous outer layer away from the bottom inch or two of each spear.

Spread the asparagus into a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Drizzle the olive oil over the top, and toss with your fingers to distribute evenly.  Give the asparagus a good salt and pepper-ing, and then spread the minced garlic over the top with your fingers.

Roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, without turning, until asparagus is tender when stabbed with a fork but not mushy.  The side of the asparagus touching the pan and the minced garlic should both be light golden brown.  (The browned asparagus tops are especially good.)  Serve hot.*

*The long asparagus spears look elegant on the plate but admittedly taste better cut into pieces due to their fibrousness.  So, use your discretion on whether to cut before serving.

Added Bonus: Today you get two garlicky recipes for the price of one!  It's a bargain.

Creamy Garlic Potato Soup

Adapted very slightly from

1 head garlic + drizzle of olive oil
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon butter
½ yellow onion, diced
1½ lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken broth*
¼ cup cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
Topping Options: croutons, shoestring potatoes, French’s fried onions, or even store-bought honey mustard and onion pretzel pieces, (original uses crispy Brussels sprouts)

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Cut garlic head in half across the equator, and rub away excess papery skin.  Set each garlic hemisphere on a piece of tin foil, then drizzle the cut sides with olive oil.  Rub slightly to ensure it covers the surface.  Wrap into a tight foil package, and roast in the oven for about 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown. (You can carefully peel back the foil and check.)  Once done, unwrap and set aside to cool.

Heat olive oil and butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and a pinch of salt, and sauté for about 5-10 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add diced potatoes and broth to the pot, making sure there is enough liquid to cover.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and cook until the potatoes are quite tender.

Turn off the heat.  Here comes the fun part.  Take the cooled garlic, and squeeze the cloves from the papery wrappers and into the soup.  Puree the soup with an immersion blender, normal blender, or food processor.  Return soup to the pot, and reheat over a low flame.  Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste.  This soup is good with a crispy topping, Parmesan toast, and a green vegetable.

*Add more to make a thinner soup, if desired.  Alternately, you can use water and jarred chicken soup base – it comes as a paste that you can store in the fridge.