Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sweet Asparagus & Sugar Snap Pea Sauté {and a little announcement}

We ventured out to the Willamette wine country this past weekend to haul home this quarter's crop from one of our favorite vineyards... Penner-Ash Winery.

While I think it might be fun to one day actually experience being "in the field" when sun-kissed, lovingly-tended grapes are brought in... our "haul" was a tad easier. We visited the Penner-Ash tasting room, nestled high on a hilltop overlooking the lush and verdant, rolling green landscape of Newberg. We sipped a couple of fantastic wines and carted home this quarter's release to wine club members. Hard work, but someone has to do it.

It was during this visit, however, that I realized something that I often take for granted: vegetables aren't high maintenance. A satisfying roast or quick sauté will produce magical results with little time or effort. Steaming is another option... though not a personal preference. And boiling... well... I think that for the most part boiling should be outlawed... with just a few exceptions. I say this because I realize that some people still carry childhood memories of bland, limp, boiled veggies that they have forever relegated to history... never to be tried again, simply because they were left with a bad taste in their mouth (and mind).

Passing a beautiful pot of flowers planted amidst long, healthy leaves of colorful chard by the front doors of Penner-Ash's tasting room, I commented on just how pretty the pot looked and asked whether the winery actually used the chard for cooking. The lovely guy assisting us said he thought they might but added that he hadn't had chard since he was a kid... his dad grew it in mass and he ate it nearly every night... always boiled! He hated it.

Of course, being me, I had to suggest that he give chard another try... just a quick sauté in olive oil (maybe some minced garlic, if preferred) and a light seasoning of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Most fruits and veggies are so naturally good on their own that you don't need to fiddle with them much... or cook them long.

This little sauté is one of my favorites this time of year when the asparagus and sugar snap peas are so sweet and flavorful. Their brilliant green just shouts Spring (I hope she hears us calling her name).

Coupled with a quick pan-seared salmon filet and dinner is on the table in 15 minutes!!

And... speaking of crops (how do you like that segue)... beginning this month I will be guest posting on a new blog launched by Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, Washington. I've been fortunate to have worked with Stemilt on a few projects over the past few years, developing a few recipes on their behalf for Costco...

... and most recently, some kid-friendly preparations for their Lil Snapper campaign featuring both Stemilt and Sunkist fruits...

It's been such an honor to work with Stemilt... and to work with such beautiful, fresh produce that's not only great, but GREAT for you! Periodically I will be contributing recipes, ideas and preparations to The Stem (such a fun name!). It officially launched today and looks fantastic. I look forward to participating in its success as an occasional guest contributor... and the promotion of fruitful, healthy eating.

Disclaimer: While I am being compensated by Stemilt as a guest contributor to The Stem, the views and opinions expressed are my own. 

Sweet Asparagus & Sugar Snap Pea Sauté
two generous servings

1 pound asparagus, rough part of stalks trimmed, cut into 1" lengths on diagonal
3/4 pound sugar snap peas, top stems trimmed, strings removed*, sliced in half or thirds on diagonal
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegan buttery stick (or butter, margarine, as preferred)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus and sugar snap peas to skillet and toss to coat with oil. Stir intermittently; sautéing for about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, add vegan butter/butter/margarine (as preferred) and continue to sauté for another 1 or 2 minutes. Veggies should be cooked through but al dente. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

* Using fingers or a sharp paring knife, slice top of each sugar snap pea to remove along with long, tough strings that run the length of each pod.

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