We have a lovely patch of asparagus on the farm. We haven’t weeded or mowed in that area so searching for asparagus amongst the weeds is a bit like looking for morels – the asparagus blends in and hides! There is still asparagus around, so you should be able to find some in the store or at a farmers market for this tasty grilled recipe. The recipe suggests grilled polenta as an optional addition. You won’t believe how tasty grilled polenta is, so I recommend giving it a try!
Grilled Shiitake and Asparagus
Serves 2 to 4
4 to 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
8 oz. asparagus
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 to 2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. chopped tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Making polenta is pretty easy, though a bit time consuming. There are lots of recipes out there for it. The New York Times has a pretty good one; follow the instructions for firm polenta. You’ll want to make the polenta, let it cool and solidify, then cut into squares and brush with olive oil. (Since the polenta keeps for several days, you only need to cut as many pieces as you need.)
Light a grill. In a small bowl, mix the 2 teaspoons of olive oil with the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar and tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
Brush the shiitake with 2 tsp of the soy vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms over moderate heat, turning once, until just tender, or about 6 minutes. You can grill the polenta at the same time.
Transfer the shiitake to a bowl; cut any large shiitake into quarters. Add 1 tbsp of the soy vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the asparagus to the skillet and cook until crisp-tender, or about 3 minutes. Transfer to the ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange the asparagus on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the shiitake over the asparagus, drizzle any remaining vinaigrette on top and serve right away. You can serve on the grilled polenta and top with chive blossoms.