Tonight's dinner inspiration comes from A Tribe Called Quest. They may start out this song dissing ham and eggs for their high cholesterol content but they soon move on to what they do like to eat - vegetables.
"Asparagus tips look yummy, yummy, yummy," Q-Tip croons knowingly. They sure do. Especially right now. Look for them at the peak of their perfection at a farmers market near you. Last week I picked up several bunches from Viereck Farm at the Westmont Farmers Market in Haddon Twp., N.J.
I knew I wanted to prepare the tender spears in a way that they would simply shine but still bring a festive aspect to our first meal of the season featuring asparagus. After trimming the ends by about an inch, I drizzled them with olive oil. They were seasoned with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. A single Meyer lemon sliced thinly joined them on the baking sheet. After about 12 minutes in a 375 degree oven, they were ready.
Meanwhile, I made three slits on both sides of a whole dorado. I dusted the fish with salt, pepper and all purpose flour and cooked in until it was golden brown on both sides in about a 1/2 cup olive oil in a cast iron skillet. By the time the asparagus was roasted, the fish was ready.
This dinner was done in thirty minutes including a side of wild rice and a salad of canned black eyed peas, carrot from Chickadee Creek Farm and a smidge of a spicy jalepeno pickle made by friend Shalini to enliven the flavors.
My book, "New Jersey Fresh: Four Seasons from Farm to Table" has plenty of ideas for simple yet delicious meals like this one. The asparagus chapter includes a story about my first summer after culinary school when I made countless orders of asparagus risotto at Brandl restaurant in Belmar, N.J. Plus tips for selecting, peeling and trimming asparagus stalks.