Connie DeSousa shared another of her tasty creations!
Spring and Asparagus are synonymous. Last week at CharCut in Calgary, Connie had prepared this crisp delicate pickle with a light, yet very cheesy sauce. I was hooked. “How did you make the pickles, Connie?” and her answer: “Lemon, thyme, garlic, salt and water. Made them about five hours ago.” She went on to explain that once they cool, they are ready-to-eat and that the process creates a crisp bite; I hovered over that dish all evening.
Edgar’s Asparagus is famous in Central Alberta. They sell in Calgary and in Edmonton at the Farmer’s Markets. She got hers from there, and so did I. This is one vegetable that there are line-ups for at the outdoor market. The season is so short and asparagus is such a delicious celebration of Spring. I have written about dancing amongst the end-of-season over-grown fronds at my grandmother’s house as a child. Watching them grow, feasting on them raw, blanched, pickled and puréed, with cheese sauce, heavy cream, hollandaise, grilled, wrapped and just steamed is embedded into my taste memory and an integral and anticipated wonder of Spring.
Water is boiling. Lemons are juiced. Thyme, fresh and fragrant. Garlic minced and asparagus ends broken off.
The kilogram of asparagus over the aromatic pickling ingredients was covered with salted boiling water; all was tightly sealed, and chilled in the freezer for faster results.
Voilá! Mine were done in about 3 hours. Smaller batches would be chilled faster.
Patted them dry and platted with the fondu I made while they were cooling and embracing the delicate lemon, thyme and garlic scent.
Crispy, crunchy, delicious, nutritious, addictive and just such a pleasure to bite into the first harvest of the season. The fondu sauce is made with organic chicken stock and a beautiful compliment to what could be a complete lunch – or, and appetizer, part of the main… possibilities…
Lemon Thyme Pickled Asparagus
- 1 kilogram of asparagus, ends broken off
- 3 lemons, squeezed (about 12 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice)
- 6-8 large cloves of garlic, minced
- several sprigs of thyme
- boiling water to cover all ingredients
- 4 tablespoons of salt added to the water before boiling
- Prepare all ingredients
- Add salt to water, boil
- Place lemons, thyme, minced garlic and juice into pot large enough to hold asparagus and water
- Prepare space in the fridge or the freezer for the container of asparagus
- Pour boiling water over all ingredients, weigh with a plate, if needed, to keep submerged
- Cover, and place in fridge or freezer to cool
- Remove from brining liquid when cold, pat dry, and serve immediately
- Keep leftovers in a tightly sealed plastic container for up to a week
Note: These can also be made in individual jars, as in the photo below:
- place small wedge of lemon, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a clove of minced garlic and a sprig of thyme in each jar
- fill with asparagus, tips up
- cover with boiling water, seal
- will keep in the fridge for months, but best eaten sooner than later
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup grated cheese
- lots of freshly ground pepper
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce
- Make a roux with the butter and flour in a small saucepan; the mixture will form a ball
- Add freshly grated pepper
- Cook for a bit, stirring constantly under medium heat, to ensure flour is cooked
- Add stock a little at a time, stirring until thickened to desired thickness
- Add cheese, stir until melted
- Add Chili Garlic Sauce and more freshly ground pepper, if needed (season to taste)
- Serve immediately
How did I do? Gold star! Without ingredient amounts or specifics in our discussion about this “recipe”, I winged it and was really happy with the pickles. They were even more “lemony, thymey and garlicky” than Connie’s, but still very delicately scented with this flavour combination. I was equally as thrilled with my fondue sauce. I had never thought of making it with a chicken stock before and that completely lightened the texture and richness of a typical cheese sauce and created the perfect compliment for these magic wands.