Who can resist the bounty of spring? From radishes to rhubarb, the delights do not stop. A top favorite, of course, is asparagus. Raw, roasted, grilled or steamed, these slender beauties offer a myriad of ways to be savored.
Asparagus season always feels too short to me and pickling is a delicious way to extend it. I am a fan of quick pickles and their instant gratification. My fridge is beginning to fill with jars, which makes me quite happy (Asian Style Rhubarb Pickles anyone?). Pickled asparagus has joined the briny collection and we’ve been contentedly munching away all week.
These pickled spears taste of grass and green – spring’s flavors. I can imagine endless ways to devour them, such as a simple appetizer with homemade mayo, chopped in a salad, or served with polenta and a poached egg (eggs and asparagus always make a lovely marriage together). My best suggestion, though? Straight from the jar.
Makes 2 quarts
3 1/2 cups white balsamic or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
10 sprigs of fresh dill
5 garlic cloves, halved
A few shakes of crushed red chile peppers
2 1/2 pounds (or 2 bunches) of asparagus, ends trimmed (save for making veggie stock)
For the brine, combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Divide the dill, garlic, crushed red chile peppers and asparagus spears between 2 sterilized, quart-sized jars.
Carefully fill the jars with the brine to within 1/2 inch of the top of the rim, covering the asparagus completely. Discard any leftover brine. Place lids on the jars and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.