Dinner & A Dance Party Friday- Asparagus

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.

Whole crispy fish with roasted asparagus and lemon. - Rachel Weston

Whole crispy fish with roasted asparagus and lemon. - Rachel Weston

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.

Recipe: Quail eggs in Purgatory

With Halloween on the way, I thought I'd share a spooky sounding recipe with you. Although there is nothing scary about cooking these. I love the quail eggs from Griggstown Farm. Sometimes I'll pick them up at H-Mart, too. Chicken or duck eggs can be substituted for the quail eggs, just cook them a bit longer until whites are set.

The purgatory refers to the heat. You can skip it all together or use a few shakes of Tabasco or red pepper flakes. Smoked paprika will add smoke without heat. If you can handle the heat, feel free to add as much spice as you can take.

 Serves 6


 1- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, preferably a NJ brand like Scalfani or Jersey Fresh

1 chipotle pepper, chopped

1 Tbsp adobo sauce from the chipotle can

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1 dozen quail eggs

2 Tbsp grated parmesan or manchego cheese



 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

1.    Warm the tomatoes, chipotle, adobo in a sauce pan.

2.    Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3.    Divide the sauce between six ramekins on a sheet tray.

4.    Use the back of a spoon to create a depression in the sauce. Crack the eggs into the space.

5.    Bake for 8-10 minutes or until whites are set. Yolks will be runny.

6.    Sprinkle with grated cheese.

7.    Serve with crusty bread or crostini.