My mother always served asparagus at her seders, regardless of when Passover fell on the calendar.Whether it was at the end of March or at the end of April, there was always asparagus.To her it was a springtime holiday, and springtime meant asparagus ..
I decided to carry on the tradition and use her asparagus plate at my seder table, although I know perfectly well from actually having a doomed asparagus patch in my front yard that asparagus doesn’t tend to pop in these parts until the very end of April But in honor of my mother, I serve it, but I waited until now, when I know I have five opportunities for Hadley grass within a mile and a half of my house, to share it with you here.
In part, I drew inspiration from my 9-year-old for this dish. She has had a signature dish for years: dates stuffed with goat (or cream) cheese. This year someone tracked down some extraordinarily divine Medjool dates for Passover. pitted them and then ripped them into bits over the roasted asparagus.
Dabs of goat cheese followed the dates. Finally, because I love pickled things, especially with those sweet, sweet dates, I scattered some quick-pickled watermelon radishes, which had turned a vivid pink from the vinegar.
The quick pickle liquid here is the same one I use for red onions and jalapenos when I want to embellish our quesadillas on Taco Tuesday. This is definitely one to file away for alternative uses. You’ll have leftover pickled radish, which I’ve really enjoyed in salads and sandwiches.
Although cooking magazines and Martha Stewart push for cutting the asparagus spear where it bends, I find that it often eliminates nearly half the spear. I personally cut a little bit above the woody end. I love to roast them for about twenty minutes in a hot , hot oven.
Served on a nice platter (perhaps you also have an asparagus platter), this dish makes a bunch of asparagus bought at a roadside stand into something really special.
I bunch asparagus, cleared and trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
One small log of goat cheese
Two watermelon radishes, peeled and sliced 2 centimeters thick (be careful if you use a mandolin)
One half cup white sugar
One half cup white vinegar
One half cup water
Two teaspoons kosher salt
Preheat oven to 400F
Drizzle a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over the asparagus, then add a nice pinch of salt to that. Toss with fingers to combine. Roast the spears on a sheet pan in the hot oven for 18 minutes.
Plate asparagus on a platter. Rip (or cut) the dates and arrange them on top of the asparagus, making sure they are divided evenly among the platter. Follow this with teaspoon-sized dabs of goat cheese, and then by halved slices of pickled watermelon radish (recipe to follow) atop the asparagus, dates and goat cheese.
Pickled watermelon radishes
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vinegar, water and kosher salt. Bring to a boil and make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved. A whisk helps with this step. Once everything has dissolved, turn the heat off, add the sliced At the two-minute mark, give the radishes a stir to redistribute, then cover and let sit for another 10 minutes.
You will have leftovers. Store them in their liquid in a small glass jar in the refrigerator. Use liberally in salads and sandwiches for the next three days or so.
Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She’s been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.