Asparagus Irene

Asparagus Irene

Asparagus will always be one of my favorite vegetables.  I just love it.

As I started writing out the recipe for this dish, I was thinking about my Mom and how much she loved asparagus. She always wanted the bigger asparagus spears- she said they had more flavor.

I remember her showing me how to break the bottom of the stalks off and how she would cook them until they were just done- but not mushy.

She wouldn’t consider eating canned asparagus- only fresh- so the season was short. It was something to be savored while it lasted.

Most times she just placed the cooked asparagus on a plate, topped with a pat of butter and a sprinkle of salt. One time, though, she made a white sauce and poured it over the asparagus. It was bliss.

Naming a recipe can be tricky. Sometimes, I just list the ingredients in the dish- like chicken with pineapple and honey. That works, but feels a little like cheating to me. I started out calling this Asparagus with Eggs, which was fine. Then I thought of how much my Mom loved asparagus. So in her memory- I named the dish after her.

For this version I used a white sauce, but topped the asparagus with 2 poached eggs, too. It was a lovely dish and made for a great dinner.

For those going meat-free on Fridays this time of year, it also makes a nice meat-free meal.

Here is the recipe.

Asparagus Irene

1 lb. fresh asparagus, washed and stems trimmed

white sauce- recipe follows

fresh lemon, cut in wedges

2 eggs

vinegar- for the poaching water

salt and pepper to taste

Put the asparagus in a steamer and cook for about 5 minutes- or until almost done. Set aside. Make white sauce, but add some lemon juice to it. I just kept squeezing lemon wedges in until it tasted right to me. Set sauce aside. Boil some water in a shallow pan and add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water. Drop the two eggs in and simmer, covered until the whites are opaque and the yolks are still runny. While the eggs are cooking return the asparagus to the heat and cook until just tender. Place asparagus on a serving dish. Sprinkle with a little salt. Gently place the eggs on top of the asparagus. Spoon some of the white sauce over the eggs. You will have more sauce than you need. Save it for another use. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, if you like. Finish with some salt and fresh ground pepper. Serves 2.

Basic White Sauce (Bechamel)

The start of many a classic dish.

2 T. butter or oil
2 T. flour
1 1/4 c. warmed milk
salt and pepper to taste

In saucepan melt butter or heat oil and add flour, stirring until smooth. Slowly whisk in milk, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Turn heat down and continue to cook, stirring constantly for a couple minutes longer. Season to taste. If you are going to store the sauce for later use place a layer of wax paper on top, store in a container with a lid or pour a little milk over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Makes about 1 c.

Lemon: Add zest of a lemon, 2 T. lemon juice and 2 T. butter just before serving.

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