Celebrate this unlikely oracle,
this ball of fat and fur,
whom we so mysteriously endow
with the power to predict spring.
Let's hear it for the improbable heroes who,
frightened at their own shadows,
nonetheless unwittingly work miracles.
Why shouldn't we believe
this peculiar rodent holds power
over sun and seasons in his stubby paw?
Who says that God is all grandeur and glory?
Early Spring or not, I'm ready!
Nothing says "Spring is here" more than bright bundles of fresh asparagus just hitting the markets. For the best recipe I know, I head for Sarah Leah Chase's COLD-WEATHER COOKING, an appropriately named and favorite cookbook I've cherished for years.
MY VERY FAVORITE
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard,
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
½ cup fruity olive oil
6 cherry or grape tomatoes, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 pounds medium asparagus trimmed and bottom portions of stalks peeled (See Note)
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Note: Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus spears where they naturally break. Use a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler to peel the bottom 3 inches of the stalk.
1. For the vinaigrette, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice and mustard together in a small bowl. Add the garlic. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then stir in the diced tomato. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let mellow at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Blanch, steam, or microwave the asparagus just until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain. Arrange the hot asparagus on a serving platter and our the vinaigrette over all. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving. The asparagus may be served warm or at room temperature. I often make it about 30 minutes ahead of serving and let it sit while I attend to the rest of my meal.