Monday, April 7, 2014

Asparagus and Spring...Perfect Together!

I'm not sure if the people who live in warm climates year round can appreciate Spring the way we northerners do. And maybe it's because we just experienced one of the worst winters in memory, but these warmer, sunny days of late have sent my spirit soaring. (But I'll admit, I'm a sucker for beginnings...first warm day of Spring, the first beach day of Summer, the first cool breeze of Autumn...the first snowfall of Winter.) But it's Spring now, and I will soak in every single moment.

While acknowledging that there are flavors tied to every season, it is asparagus that makes my mouth water each April. I can't be totally confident if it's the flavor or the memories I associate with it that brings it home each Spring, but this vegetable will make many appearances, in many forms, on my table this season. I can remember, when we were kids,  my sister Betty and I fighting over who would get to drink the buttery, warm broth at the bottom of the bowl each time my Dad made it. We were suppose to rotate turns, but she always seemed to be closer to the bowl then me.

And I will never forget my Grandmother making asparagus and egg sandwiches on warm Italian bread. This was a Spring diversion from her famous pepper and egg sandwiches. After Grandmom passed, my Aunt Lee would spend Easters with me. On Good Friday, we always had flounder, baked macaroni and cheese, stewed tomatoes, and of course, fresh asparagus. The next morning, we would get up very early and make a trip to a bakery that the whole family refers to as "the bread store". All they make are rolls. Really, really good rolls. And they're cheap!

In Haddon Heights, NJ, worth the trip!
Around the holidays, police have to direct traffic in and around the neighborhood because of Del Buono's popularity. Grab one of the paper bags stacked at the door and head to the big oven racks that are dumping hot rolls into bins. Then, fill your bag and try to make it to the register without getting knocked over. This always worried me since my Aunt needed a cane to walk...and wasn't afraid to use it if someone got in front of her. The aroma on the ride home was amazing. On our last "bread store" run before she became to ill to go, I watched her pull a stick of butter from her coat pocket, grab a warm roll and say "I can't wait" That picture of her joyfully consuming that roll in the car will stay with me forever. Once home, she'd get out the frying pan, I'd get out the eggs and asparagus. Next stop. Heaven.

Aunt Lee is gone now, but I think of her often this time of year. And even though I now have to use Egg Beaters because of a mid-life allergy to egg yolks, (go figure), it doesn't make one bit of difference. I will have this sandwich, or an omelette variation, at least once a week till September. Food...its scents, its flavors are so tied to our memories of family. I appreciate that even more as I get older.

Another thing I discovered about getting older, I could live on appetizers. Seriously. I don't need a full meal every night. Friends and I have discovered that appetizers and happy hour can be dinner! With that in mind, here is my absolute favorite spring appetizer. And of course, you will need asparagus!

Asparagus Roll Ups!!!   


  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted (Pepperidge Farm works great)
  • 2 oz of herb flavored goat cheese. (You can use any type of soft cheese you like, such as cream cheese or Boursin, but if you know me, you know it will be goat cheese!)
  • 12 spears of asparagus.(For anything else, I prefer the pencil thin variety, but for this one, the thicker stalks hold up better.) Cut the harder, bottom ends off.
  • Par boil the asparagus, drain and let cool.
  • Preheat oven according to pastry package, which is usually 400 degrees.
  • Unroll the puff pastry sheets out onto the counter and spread the cheese mixture, covering it completely.
  • Diagonally cut each sheet into about six slices, each about 1" in diameter.
  • On the diagonal, wrap the strips around the asparagus, leaving room at the end for the tip of the stalk and one end, and the bottom of it, on the other.
  • Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake around 15 minutes, or until golden browned and puffed. 
I usually serve this with homemade Hidden Valley Ranch dip. The kind you buy in a packet, then make according to directions. It is really so much better and worth the effort. 

This recipe is so easy it cry's out for variations. I served it, then a friends served it, but spread the cheese on thin ham, before cutting and wrapping. It was wonderful. Or crumble bacon into the soften cheese before spreading. Or do it this way. Almost a healthy appetizer!

If you decide to add something different, please let me know. I will definitely try it! 

Photo's by ImageGoggle and Jo Ann Phelps

No comments:

Post a Comment