Grilled Asparagus

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Last month for my birthday Jeff gave me the Toro Bravo cookbook. It’s an awesome book with lots of background stories told by John Gorham, creator of Toro Bravo, Tasty N Sons, and so much more here. He’s had a pretty interesting life and I read it cover to cover, which I normally don’t do with a cookbook. But he’s funny and talks about all the challenges of starting and running a restaurant. Within the first year, the Toro Bravo restaurant had a flood, a fire, and a burglary! So much drama. Anyways, I came across this recipe and it sounded good, plus I was able to use some of my Preserved Lemons. I always get excited when I can use them, and this is a staple in the Toro Bravo kitchen. If you are ever in Portland, this restaurant is a must. The food is spectacular, so much flavor and depth. It’s Spanish tapas style servings shared for the table, it’s fun to get dish after dish after dish, and just when you think you’ve had enough, one more.

This recipe has a lot of bold flavors, with preserved lemon, olives, pepper and Jamón. What the heck is Jamón? It’s a cured Spanish ham, it has intense flavor and it’s used sparingly in this dish. It’s also very expensive and I had to really dig to find this in the store, it was about $10 for 2 ounces. If you can’t find it you could substitute with bacon or even pepperoni, Jamón has that same intense flavor. Oh, here it is on Amazon if you want to splurge but I don’t think it’s necessary for the dish.

The asparagus is blanched before grilling which I recommend doing. I’ve grilled asparagus without blanching and get mixed results. The tips burn while the stalk is barely cooked. By blanching you only need to grill for a few minutes to get them charred and your done. 

Below is a half version of the recipe (a lot of the recipes are for huge portions!). This is a good side dish, or tapas dish for about 3-4 people. If you have a 6-8 just double up the recipe.

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Grilled Asparagus

  • 1 lb Asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices Jamón, very finely julienned
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 Preserved lemon, pulp removed, skin julienned
  • 1 1/2 Calabrian chilis (or a few Mama Lil’s peppers)
  • 1/4 cup Marinated Olives

Start you grill. 

Snap each asparagus spear at the spot where it stops being woody and gets soft. Discard the woody parts. Peel the skin away from the lower part of the remaining asparagus. You want to peel about 1 1/2” of the bottom of your asparagus. 

Bring a gallon of water to a boil with 1/3 cup salt (this was for the original recipe which I’ve halved so you might not need this much water for 1 pound of asparagus). Once the water is boiling add the asparagus and boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the size. Remove the asparagus to a plate and let it cool.

In a medium saute pan over med-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and Jamón and cook, stirring constantly until nicely crisped, about 1 minute. Strain and discard the oil and set the Jamón aside. (as the Jamón sits it gets crisper)

Dry the asparagus, season with olive oil, salt and pepper, toss to coat.

Grill the asparagus until nicely charred, 3-4 minutes, and remove to a plate and set aside.

Put the butter in a medium saute pan and let it just get to browning, then add the preserved lemon skin and give the pan a good couple shakes. One the lemon turns a little white, and is starting to get crispy, after about 1-2 minutes, add the chilies, then the olives and give the pan another good shake. Stir and allow the mix to bloom for about 20 seconds.

Add the Jamón, shake and top the asparagus with the mix. Serve immediately.

Quick Pickled Green Beans + Bloody Mary

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Hi Folks. Hope everyone is having a great summer. I’m getting back to some quick pickling again. Not too long ago we bought a big bag of green beans, for potato salad and whatever else. But we couldn’t eat that many that fast so I decided to pickle what we had left. And I’m glad I did, they’re really good, makes a great garnish for a Bloody Mary so I posted that recipe as well. 

The ratio of green beans to liquid from the original recipe didn’t work out well, so I’ve made some notes in the recipe below that might be helpful. But don’t feel that you have to get everything super exact. After my second and third attempt I just started tossing a few things in here and there, adding the hot water and vinegar, it all works out, mostly, ha ha. I’m looking forward to trying this with other vegetables. One vegetable I’ve had pickled that I didn’t like was celery. The texture was too weird and it was hard to eat because it was so rubbery. I’ve had some excellent pickled mushrooms which I never thought I would like, but I do very much and plan on trying out some recipes. 

Initially I just photographed a plate of the pickled green beans, but it didn’t look very impressive, lol, then I remembered how good they were in a Bloody Mary so I whisked that together and I think the cocktail gives the green beans more visual appeal and context for photo styling purposes. 

Anything can look good!

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Quick Pickled Green Beans

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups white vinegar 
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds 
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt 
  • 1 tablespoon sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (1 for each jar)
  • A handful of fresh dill weed (and flowering dill seed if available)

Place the beans in canning jars (about 3 or 4 jars). Distribute the mustard seeds, crushed red pepper and dill among the jars evenly. Add a garlic clove to each jar. (I do it this way because when I worked from the original recipe, which was adding all these things to the pot, it was more difficult to distribute evenly in several containers)

In a pot, heat the vinegar and water to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the salt and sugar. Whisk until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Pour the liquid over the green beans. Add water to top off if needed (I ended up heating more vinegar and water because the ratios were way off, 1 lb of green beans is a lot!). Let cool, and then cover and place in the refrigerator. Allow the beans to pickle 24 hours before using. Pickled green beans will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

(Adapted from The Food Network)

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Bloody Mary

  • 6 ounces tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish 
  • A few drops worcestershire sauce
  • A few drops hot sauce
  • Fresh lemon and juice
  • 1.5 ounce vodka

In a glass whisk together tomato juice, horseradish, worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, squeeze in juice of about a 1/4 lemon, stir and taste. (adjust as needed, I like 1 teaspoon horseradish but Jeff likes 1/2 teaspoon) It’s all about preferred taste, but this is what I like.  Add ice, garnish with lemon wedge and pickled green beans! Makes 1 drink.

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