By this date in the past I don’t know how many years I would have prepared Zuckerman jumbo asparagus several times already. Its weather-related late appearance at the Saturday Irvine farmers market this year deferred my springtime ritual to just this past weekend. But that’s OK, I’ll make up for it. As long as it’s in stock it’ll be on our table often.
We eat it as a first course, with our fingers, dipped in mayonnaise, either homemade (I like grainy mustard for this) or plain old Best Foods from the jar, sometimes doctored with a little curry powder. We’ll have it at least once with hollandaise sauce, and maybe more than once with a poached or over-easy egg landed on top, salt & pepper, a thread of very green olive oil, and a shower of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
To peel or not to peel? I peel, all of ‘em, except the very extremely pencil-thin. The jumbo size requires it, and rewards the small effort with an uninterrupted wallop of flavor. So easy: Trim the thick ends, peel, into wildly boiling, salted water for 5 or 6 minutes, drain, done. While the rich sauces mentioned above are traditional accompaniments (and SO GOOD), blanched cold asparagus with nothing more than a breath of sea salt and freshly ground pepper makes a guilt-free feast this time of year.