Wednesday, May 20, 2009

asparagus with citrus and oregano

I am not one of those technology-loathing Luddites who believes that nothing good can come from a microwave. I have too much respect for Stouffer’s Chicken à la King (a grade-school favorite) to make such a claim.

But, despite the endorsements of many respected chefs and grandmothers, the idea of cooking with a microwave never felt right.

That is, it never felt right until last week, when I decided to attempt Andrew Carmellini’s microwaved asparagus with orange and oregano. Less than ten minutes later, this was the result.

I’ll be honest, this is not the most delicious asparagus I’ve ever tasted. But, when you factor in the effort-to-reward ratio, it’s certainly up there. In its best moments, asparagus à la Carmellini gives chicken à la king a run for its money.

Asparagus with Citrus and Oregano
Adapted from
Urban Italian, by Andrew Carmellini

Serves 2-4

For the asparagus:
1 bunch thick asparagus
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 orange

For the dressing:
2 oranges
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably on the branch
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt for sprinkling

Cut off an inch or two from the bottom of the asparagus discard. Place the asparagus in a microwave-safe dish with high sides. Add the olive oil and ¼ cup water. Using a Microplane, grate the orange zest over the top. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and put it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high. Rotate the dish and cook for approximately 2 more minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus. (The stalks should be bright green and crunchy-tender.)

Segment the oranges by slicing off the top and bottom of each, removing the peel and pith, and cutting the segments out from between the dividing membranes. Place segments in a bowl and squeeze the juice from the orange membranes over them. Add the olive oil, scallion, oregano, and lemon juice. Combine with a spoon and season to taste.

Remove the plastic wrap from the dish and drain any water. Spoon dressing over the asparagus and sprinkle with sea salt.

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