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A few weeks ago I got to eat at Ad Hoc, a real treat of a restaurant located in Yountville, CA., in Napa Valley. Ad Hoc is Thomas Keller’s “regular folk” restaurant, conceptualized from meals made to serve the staff at his other restaurants. The comfort food was so good, it was turned into a cookbook and restaurant. I’ve made many meals from the cookbook, as it’s beautiful and approachable.
Ad Hoc serves a family style, four course meal five nights a week. We were served fried chicken which is highlighted in the cookbook, along with arugula salad, a cheese board, and peanut butter bars with ice cream. Although the fried chicken was brined, tender, crispy and off the hook wonderful, it was the asparagus gremolata that stood out as the star of the table.
The asparagus was perfectly cooked and brought to life with gremolata, that perfectly healthy chopped medley of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. I’ve only made gremolata once for osso buco, which is shocking to me, because I always have these three ingredients on hand, and it’s an incredible flavor builder.
Sometime around the 80’s the over-boiled vegetable of kitchen’s past got a remake when lightly steamed vegetables started to become popular, but I think the pendulum swung a little too far, and today vegetables aren’t cooked enough. Green beans, broccoli and asparagus often fall into the “too raw to enjoy” category. Marcella Hazan and many Italians agree with me. Raw vegetables do not absorb flavor and are often tasteless.
Place Your Vegetables in an Ice Bath to Keep them Green
There is a caveat, however. You must put your cooked vegetables over ice to stop the cooking and keep their beautiful green color. You can eat it hot or at room temperature. I showed you how to do that when I made broccoli rabe.
I usually use a big stainless steel bowl which is handy in the kitchen.
This particular dish of asparagus gremolata has many benefits aside from being an elegant side dish or party dish. Asparagus is an especially powerful detoxer, as is lemon, parsley and garlic, so this is the food to make when your body is looking for an overhaul.
There are Many Health Benefits from Asparagus
Asparagus Gremolata is the 10-minute side dish.
When choosing asparagus, make sure it’s fresh. A stalk should snap not bend. I look for medium sized stalks, Big stalks are tough; sometimes baby stalks are okay, but can be stringy instead of tender.
The hardest part of this is waiting for the water to boil. The tips are trimmed, and the gremolata takes a minute to make. I buy organic lemons, especially when I know I’m using the zest.
This is a wonderful side dish for any protein and would be especially nice on a holiday dinner table. Because it can be served at room temperature, it’s perfect to bring to a party. You might think it strange to bring a cooked vegetable to a party, but there won’t be any left. People are always looking for healthy choices.
If you love asparagus, you’ll love my chicken, asparagus and pasta dish. If you want a low-carb option, this asparagus and poached eggs (another Italian classic) will charm you.
You might also like this asparagus detox, anti-inflammatory asparagus soup.
- 1 bunch asparagus
- bowl of ice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- squeeze of lemon juice
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 loosely filled cup of flat leaf Italian parsley
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- zest of two lemons
- Trim the tips of asparagus about one inch.
- Place in boiling water for 6 to 7 minutes
- Remove and place in bowl of ice to stop cooking and maintain green color. If you want to serve asparagus warm you can heat it in oven a few minutes before serving.
- Make Gremolata
- zest lemons
- mince garlic
- chop parsely
- You can do chop garlic, lemon zest and parsley at same time if you want to.That's what I do.
- Remove asparagus from ice bath. Toss with half of gremolata. Drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve by adding remaining gremolata.
- This can be served at room temperature or warmed up in oven right before serving.