Farmer’s Table: Asparagus with Hazelnut Gremolata
This is the time of year when we have an abundance of fresh asparagus. I am always looking for new ways to prepare it.
I was intrigued by a recipe for asparagus topped with a hazelnut gremolata, since I had all of the ingredients on hand, including fresh homegrown parsley and green garlic and hazelnuts gathered last fall from plants in my yard.
I’d never made gremolata and wasn’t sure what it was. It is an Italian condiment that generally has garlic, lemon and parsley as primary ingredients. It is sprinkled over a number of dishes as a topping or garnish.
It is commonly used on Osso Buco, a savory Milanese dish. This traditional recipe consists of braised veal shanks flavored with cinnamon, bay leaf and gremolata. Since I do not eat veal, I was unfamiliar with the classic chopped herb condiment.
The recipe I found for gremolata has a few variations and contains grated orange rind and toasted hazelnuts. Citrus flavors blend nicely with asparagus.
I chose to use green garlic in the recipe, because last season’s garlic has an acrid taste. Green garlic is young garlic with tender leaves harvested early in the season before the bulb is formed. Green garlic is mellow and less spicy than mature garlic.
Spring onions, red onions, shallots or even ramps could be substituted for the garlic in this recipe.
Flat-leaf parsley is preferred, but only my curly parsley wintered over, so I used that.
More than likely, you will have more gremolata than you can use. Don’t throw it away, because it can be mixed with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar for a salad dressing. It can be used as a fish marinade or rubbed over chicken breasts before grilling. It can be added to meatloaf or meatball mixtures or sprinkled over warm pasta. It would also be delicious served over other vegetables such as roasted carrots or Brussels sprouts.
Gremolata is so simple; you probably don’t need a recipe. This is my adapted version of the original recipe.
Asparagus with Hazelnut Gremolata
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
½ cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
Grated zest of ½ orange
2-½ tablespoons olive oil
1 pound asparagus
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread the nuts in a pan and roast in the oven, turning once or twice until skins crack and nuts are fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the nuts to fine-mesh sieve and put the sieve aside. Rub the nuts against the sieve to remove the skins. Not all of the skin will come off. Set nuts aside.
To make gremolata: Put hazelnuts, garlic, parsley, and orange zest in food processor. Pulse until nuts are finely chopped.
Transfer to a small bowl and add 2-½ tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stir to blend. Set aside for about an hour to allow the flavors to meld.
Steam asparagus until tender. The time will vary depending on size of asparagus. Drain and cool to room temperature.
Place spears in a dish and spoon gremolata across the top. Serve with remaining gremolata at the table.
For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at email@example.com or go to our websites at metrokanawha.com and putnamreview.com. Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.