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“Leave our agricultural future to chefs and anyone who takes food and cooking seriously. We never bought into the “bigger is better” mantra, not because it left us too dependent on oil, but because it never produced anything really good to eat. Truly great cooking — not faddish 1.5-pound rib-eye steaks with butter sauce, but food that has evolved from the world’s thriving peasant cuisines — is based on the correspondence of good farming to a healthy environment and good nutrition. It’s never been any other way, and we should be grateful. The future belongs to the gourmet.”

-Dan Barber, NY Times, May 11, 2008

Inspired by this quote and by the piles of asparagus at our local farmers’ markets here in NYC, we polled the Slow Food USA staff members to hear what they’re doing with nature’s bounty.

Many of us agree that the best thing to do with asparagus is simply to grill or roast it at a very high heat. Slather it with good olive oil, plenty of salt (Maldon sea salt, says Winnie) and pepper, and cook it up.

  • Executive Director Erika suggests roasting it “alongside some young garlic bulbs, halved lengthwise. Dressed with homemade breadcrumbs and a squeeze of lime, what more do you need?”
  • Cecily adds that it’s best to eat them hot off the grill, with your fingers.
  • Sharleen wraps them in prosciutto.
  • Intern Jessica offers: “Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto. Asparagus works so well in risotto! It gives you these little bits of earthy crunch to counter the creamy tartness of the rice.”
  • Jenny pickled hers, and followed this recipe, adding julienned carrots. For the pickling spices, she used this, minus the cloves.
  • SFUSA Board member, Chef Kurt Friese blogged over at Grist about what he’s doing with his wild foraged edibles (not asparagus, but other cool stuff).

Dig in!