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Friday, 29 May 2009

Yay! It’s asparagus season

Filed under: food & drink,main course,vegetarian — ejm @ 13:15 EDT

summary: pasta with asparagus, toasted pinenuts, caramelized onion, grainy mustard, dill weed and goat cheese; why there are no photos in this post

We got two large bunches (enough for 4 asparagus hogs) of Ontario asparagus for $2 at our favourite vegetable store the other day. We had asparagus the first night simply steamed and drizzled with butter. We would have squeezed on some lemon juice too if we hadn’t used up all the lemon the night before to make the most wonderful fish picatta.

Photos? You must be joking. We were too busy setting the table and then tucking in!

Then yesterday morning over breakfast, after we finished raving about how good the previous night’s dinner was, we discussed what we should do with asparagus for dinner last night. And after several suggestions about what we should have, we did the unprecedented thing. We cooked separate dinners. To dine together at the same time.

T was determined to have his favourite of toast with sliced hard boiled eggs, asparagus spears and cheese sauce on top. I was equally determined not to have that for dinner. (Breakfast maybe, but not dinner!) To me, it’s just a waste of good toast, eggs, cheese and asparagus. (Now, if it had been Hollandaise sauce rather than cheese sauce, that would be a different story.) And before you start to chastise me for turning my nose up, T stressed that he wanted HIS cheese sauce rather than what I consider to be real cheese sauce made with cheddar. The cheese sauce T was determined to have is made with – get ready for it – processed cheese slices melted into a white sauce. What people in their right minds want that cheese sauce?! Eewwwwwwwwww!!

What I wanted for dinner was some sort of pasta dish.

I had been leafing through our cookbooks and wandering around the internet and saw what looked to be fabulous Asparagus and goat cheese pasta at Sara’s Kitchen.

Recipe for Asparagus and goat cheese pasta

The recipe that Sara had used (creamy fettuccine with asparagus) calls for fettucine, asparagus, toasted pine nuts, goat’s cheese, grainy mustard and fresh dill. We had all those things on hand!! (Well, we didn’t have the fettucine and I was too lazy to make fresh pasta for one. But we do always have dried pasta on hand.) To add incentive, the dill I planned to use is growing in our garden now. Garden grown dill is SO much better than store bought hot house dill!

I only loosely followed the recipe by scrawling the ingredients onto a piece of paper without making note of any measurements (so what else is new?).

  • Pasta
  • Goat cheese
  • Mustard
  • Pine Nuts
  • Dill

On my way to the kitchen, I promptly lost the little scrap of paper. But with so few ingredients, where could I go wrong? With what’s left of my mind, I managed to add the following to the original list:

  • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Black pepper
  • Dried dill (we don’t quite have enough fresh dill in the garden yet)

The changes I inadvertently made were to use penne instead of fettucine and two kinds of grainy mustard rather than just one: our mustard that T makes, and Moutarde de moüt de raisin, a sweet grainy wine mustard that was given to us. It is dark burgundy coloured and hardly tastes like mustard at all even though the mustard seeds are clearly visible (see photos from our Easter feast). I also added onion and garlic caramelized in olive oil. Otherwise, I’m sure what I made was virtually the same as Sara’s asparagus and goat cheese pasta. :-)

Indeed, the resulting dish was very good. I loved the toasted pine nuts. But next time I’ll use fettucine or linguine rather than penne. I’d also add more dill weed and a few chili flakes as well. I found it to be just a tiny bit bland. Which is surprising, considering the amount of mustard I used.

Photos? What??? Now you’re just being crazy. We were too busy juggling burners, dancing and feinting between the stove and the sink to drain pasta and/or asparagus, checking cheese sauce, peeling eggs, making toast, stirring onions, breaking up goat’s cheese, setting the table and then tucking in!

And both dinners were delicious. Well, mine was. And T claimed his was good (how could it be with that cheese sauce?) But remind me not to cook separately again. You wouldn’t believe how many dishes, utensils, pots and pans we had to wash!

Tonight, we’re planning on having Fettucine Alfredo. Hmmmm, what vegetable should we get to go with that? I suspect asparagus would be delicious with it. But I’m hoping there will be some good looking sugarsnap peas. And I don’t want to get tired of asparagus! What to do; what to do!

Excuse me while I go and campaign for asparagus with Hollandaise sauce for tomorrow night.

I love having our camera but I do find that it has made it more and more daunting to post. When I read others’ blogs, I’m amazed at the fabulous shots they manage to get of what looks to be perfectly prepared and presented dishes. How DO they do it?!

I’m not the best photographer at the best of times. And I still haven’t gotten used to the really slow shutter time on our digital camera. I have the perfect shot in the view finder and click, only to discover that whatever was there has been whisked away.

Trying to take an appetizing photo right at that stressful time just before sitting down when so many other things have to be co-ordinated – don’t let the vegetables overcook; where is the other serving spoon; who moved the oven mitts!!? – just isn’t always the best idea. Invariably, the camera is upstairs. Or the batteries have run out. Or… well, you know.

So I’ve taken to “forgetting” to take a photo. And I’m now giving myself permission to post even if there isn’t a photo. Hey, I did it for ages before we got our digital camera; I don’t know why I suddenly feel like I CAN’T post if there’s no photo! :stomp:

I was thinking about submitting this for this week’s WHB but as there is no actual recipe on this post AND no photos, I decided against it. Please read more about dill (Anethum graveolens) and WHB here:


  • MyKitchenInHalfCups

    No measurements: that’s because you’re good and it’s cooking.
    Lost the recipe notes you made: umm that’s what I’m always doing.
    I’m with your dinner – none of that cheese sauce for me thank you.

    That’s awfully nice of you to say, but I’m not actually that good at cooking and usually have to follow recipes to the letter. T is the real cook in our house and he’s very good at it (he’s allowed that one mistake about his processed cheese sauce – I can’t remember anything else that he does that is incorrect. Oh. Except for sunny side up eggs on salad… ;-)). -Elizabeth


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