Sunday, April 01, 2007

Les Asperges

Washed, peeled, and trimmed asparagus all in a row.

Asparagus season is here ! The Loire Valley is one of the regions where asparagus is grown in France and now is the time. Here, the stalks are grown in hills of dirt and are not allowed to see the light of day. This makes them white, not green, and very tasty. The season will last about a month or so, then they'll start getting rare and expensive, then they'll be gone.

Some of the tips are green, some are a pleasing shade of purple.

We went to the market in St. Aignan Saturday morning on a quest to see if the vendors indeed had asparagus, and they did. The prices are amazing. They ranged from €13/kilo down to €7/kilo. The least expensive ones are sold by a guy who sets up a table in our market and the market in Selles-sur-Cher every year. He sells goat cheese, honey, and asparagus (in season). I'm sure he's a local guy who grows them on his property nearby, making his overhead quite low.

The cooked spears are lined up on a slice of ham.

We bought two bottes from that guy (his asparagus is always good) with the intention of making one of our favorite dishes : asparagus wrapped in ham and gratinéed in a béchamel sauce with cheese. We also do this dish with endives when asparagus are not in season.

The ham is rolled around the asparagus and placed in a baking dish on a bit of béchamel sauce.

I must confess, Ken did all the cooking here. I took the pictures. We both devoured the result. We only used one botte d'asperges, so we still have a bunch left for another meal. What to do...

These are still only partially covered. More sauce goes on before they go into the oven.

The rolls are covered with the remaining béchamel and some grated cheese, then popped into the oven until bubbly and golden brown. My pictures of the finished dish didn't come out too well, so you'll have to use your imagination !

And, check out Loulou in southwestern France for a great recipe for asparagus risotto with sparkling wine !

8 comments:

  1. Asparagus have always been one of my favourites, but they don't last very long and are terribly expensive...
    I must admit that my favourite way of preparing --and eating them, is simply with vinaigrette!

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  2. I love asparagus, although I admit I've not had white asparagus- just the common green kind. Asparagus season in CA seems to be about to end right now. Your recipe seems wonderful - I will have to try it (maybe not until next year....)

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  3. I've noticed that asparagus are very expensive in Paris. Not so here, where they are grown, when they are plentiful. Walt made the asparagus risotto recipe yesterday, using chicken broth and white wine. He added sautéed mushrooms along with the white asparagus and it was really delicious.

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  4. Et les asperges violettes ? Elles sont également très bonnes. En tout cas, les asperges que nous avons dégustées chez vous étaient excellentes :-) Tiens, voici un topo sur les asperges... Tout ce que vous avez voulu savoir sur les... asperges, et même plus ;-)

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/005/X1702F/x1702f0m.htm

    Bises. Marie

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  5. Claude, I love asperges that way, too.

    Kim, good luck - let me know how it turns out.

    Marie, t'as raison. Merci pour le lien.

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  6. I made this last night for dinner. It was delicious! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. mp, you bet. I'm glad you liked it. It's one of my favorites.

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  8. I wanted to comment on your trip posts, but the asparagus caught my eye...this looks exactly like how I often cook Belgian endives, but I've never done it with asparagus. I think I will soon!

    Cf. my comments on Ken's blog post about pictures from 80s French trips...don't you wish we had all been able to blog our whole lives?

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