The asparagus is stressing me out.

Am I the only person who suffers from Extreme Vegetable Panic? I’m always seduced by bushel after peck of the fabulous farm-fresh vegetables at the greenmarket on Saturdays. I load up the fridge with (season permitting) snap peas and ramps and strawberries and leeks and corn and tomatoes and rhubarb and kale and just-picked baby lettuces, delighted at how well we’ll be eating during the week. And then comes the week.

On Monday, I go to work and there’s some sort of major crisis. We’re gonna lose the account! The client meeting is tomorrow! If we don’t have a new campaign in the next six minutes, the planets gonna blow! Tuesday and Wednesday are much the same and my produce starts to wilt or rot or dry out or whatever form of slow death is appropriate to its genus. By Thursday, I’m desperate to leave work before midnight so I can shell and sauté my fava beans and toss them with fresh goat cheese and mint before midnight. Sometimes I’m successful. Other times, I have no choice but to throw away their sad little corpses.

This is my weekly routine. And I’m not capable of ignoring the lovely, fresh things at the farmer’s market, because they’re always flaunting their lovely freshness at me. I’m terrified of joining a CSA, because I’m sure every week would end with a major vegetable-induced meltdown.

This week’s victim? Asparagus. One pound. But I wasn’t letting this one go down without a fight. I left work at 9:15. Walked in the door at 10:09 and, with barely a smooch on Nick’s cheek, set about stemming and blanching it and making a Spaghetti Carbonara to mix the bright, green stalks into. We ate at a quarter to 11. By that time, I was too tired to even eat that much and I collapsed into bed shortly thereafter. But I slept well, because this week I won the battle against my Extreme Vegetable Panic. Next week’s another story, though.

Spaghetti & Asparagus Alla Carbonara
Serves 4

1 lb. fresh asparagus
1 lb. spaghetti.
1/3 lb. bacon, diced
1 clove of garlic, smashed
4 eggs
1 ½ cups fresh grated parmeggiano reggiano
Lots of fresh black pepper

1. Set a large pot of water a-boilin’ on the stove. Add lots of salt, once it comes to a boil.

2. Snap the ends off the asparagus; if you bend the stalk, the woody part will snap off naturally at exactly the point where you should be eating it. The fresher the asparagus, the more you’ll get to eat of it. (Now, can you see why I was freaking out?!). Cut the stalks into 1” pieces and plunk it into the boiling water until it’s just barely tender, not more than 3 minutes. Scoop it out with a slotted spoon and get it right into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

3. Get the spaghetti going in the same boiling water you blanched your asparagus in.

4. Put the diced bacon in a skillet and cook on medium. When some of the fat has been rendered out, add the garlic clove, moving it around occasionally, until the bacon is nice and crispy. Discard the garlic.

5. Break the eggs into a large bowl. Add the cheese and whisk it all together.

6. Drain the spaghetti and add it to the eggs, tossing quickly so the egg coats the pasta. Don’t worry about salmonella.

7. Add the bacon, the bacon drippings, and the asparagus. Toss, toss, toss. Season with lots of black pepper and some salt, if necessary. Serve with extra parmeggiano reggiano.


Pam said...

"I’m terrified of joining a CSA, because I’m sure every week would end with a major vegetable-induced meltdown."


I'm a little too frightened to open the drawers in my fridge...

Anonymous said...


Andrea said...

re: anonymous (who must be my dad because discarding the garlic is exactly the kind of thing that he'd be appalled at)

crushing the clove and frying it up in the bacon fat embues just the right amount of subtle garlic flavor. if you left it in, it would become a much more noticeable flavor component, as opposed to just supporting the bacon and the egg and the cheese. of course this is just my humble opinion and I'm sure you can find plenty of carbonaras that include more garlic. I like to keep it simple, but that's just me. but cooking is a mutable art, so mince it and leave it in if you'd prefer!