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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Springy Spiced Asparagus

Fenugreek is another one of those spices about which I know next to nothing. Or rather, knew next to nothing. Armed with a bag of fenugreek seeds and the internet, I set out to find a recipe to really showcase fenugreek’s bitter flavor and sweet aroma.

But, as can often happen when traversing the internet, I was a little underwhelmed. Sure, there are a lot of recipes that use fenugreek, but I didn't find a recipe that really showcased fenugreek as a star ingredient.

Enter The Guardian and a seemingly now defunct series in the food section called Hugh’s Three Good Things on a Plate. A few years ago, when this feature was regularly updated, I made Hugh’s recipe for Eggs, Broccoli, and Garam Masala. It was so easy – just some broccoli, cooked however you like, a few eggs, soft boiled, and garam masala cooked for but a few minutes in butter. You lay the eggs on top of the broccoli and drizzle the garam masala infused butter over the whole thing, yielding a rich, warming dish that, when served with bread or grains, is a pretty decent meal. Of course, I made this delicious, easy, quick dish just once and promptly forgot about it. 

Until now.

Today, I give you something along the same lines, and perfect for spring: asparagus, cooked how you like, topped with an egg (I poached mine, just because), and drizzled with a silky sauce of ground fenugreek, coriander, and cumin cooked in a dab of butter. A sprinkle of salt and a crack of pepper and you’re set.

Asparagus with Eggs and Fenugreek Butter
adapted from The Guardian

For 2 servings:

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 eggs, prepared how you like (poached, fried, soft boiled, hard boiled, etc.)
Chives, dill, or your favorite herb to garnish (optional)

Prepare the asparagus as you like. I like roasting mine: preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking dish and spread the asparagus in a single layer. Bake for about 10 minutes, until mostly tender but still bright. (You could also blanch or even microwave your asparagus.)

Meanwhile, grind the fenugreek and coriander seeds. I pulverize the fenugreek in a spice grinder (aka coffee grinder) and lightly crush the coriander in a mortar and pestle, but proceed as you prefer. Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over low heat and add the ground fenugreek, coriander, and cumin. Cook over low heat for about 2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

To serve: divide the asparagus between two plates. Top with eggs, then drizzle with spiced butter. (You will likely have leftover spiced butter*). Garnish with chives or other herbs if desired. Serve as a side dish or starter. 

Happy spring!

*Leftover spiced butter is wonderful in just about anything - use in a sauté with other fresh veggies, drizzle over popcorn, or even spread on toast.

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