Spring has sprung, and asparagus is everywhere. The farmer’s market stalls are lined with pointy green bundles, and every supermarket I’ve been to this month has asparagus on display. If you’re looking for seasonal green stuff to experiment with, this is your prime suspect right now.
Truth be told, asparagus is not my favorite vegetable. I like the flavor just fine, but there’s something about the soft crunch of the stalks that doesn’t appeal to me. My favorite way to eat asparagus is not whole, or even chopped, but shaved. With a vegetable peeler and a few minutes’ work, you can turn the rubbery stalks into pale ribbon-like strands, thin enough that light shines through them. Instead of crunchy, the strands are silky and soft, and the flavor seems softer and more floral, somehow.
Recently, I hit on a particularly nice combination: shaved asparagus, thin-sliced leeks and mustard on whole-grain flatbread. The flavors play gorgeously together–grassy asparagus, sweet leek, spicy mustard, nutty grains. After baking and topping the flatbread, I ran it under the broiler for a few minutes, just to char the asparagus for a little smoky crunch. It took a little experimenting to strike the right balance of textures–crisp on the bottom, chewy and soft in the middle, ribbony on top–but now that I’ve got it, it must be shared.
I kept this simple–and, incidentally, vegan–so there’s nothing really holding the topping onto the flatbread. It’s a little delicate to cut into. If you wanted more of a sturdy topping, you could grate a little smoked gouda over the asparagus. But I like it just the way it is–simple and springy and loaded with vegetable flavor.
If you think you don’t like asparagus, then this is the asparagus recipe for you.