The bunched spears of asparagus splendidly speak of spring. They are at their best now – tender, fresh and slim.
This is a relatively new vegetable for me. I did not “naturally” grow up with it.
However, over the years I have observed that the appearance of the asparagus in the market marks the beginning of spring.
Presently they are stacked up high in every market and are better than any other time of the year. Bright green, with beautiful photogenic tips in shades of purple.
I have also learned that they are healthy and full of nutrients. Besides all that, I have learned to love it and experiment with them just beyond steaming and searing with pepper.
With time I have learned to fall in love with them. Kalonji or Nigella is a spice I often use. I grew up it and the flavors remind me of home, of traditional Bengali cuisine. The recipe today combines the freshness of spring with the familiarity of comfort of my home; asparagus with nigella.
Stir-Fried Asparagus with Nigella and Almonds
Ingredients: (serves 2 as side)
- 20 small spears of fresh asparagus (discard tough ends and slice each spear in half inch pieces)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (optional)
- 1 green hot chili pepper, slit
- scant 1/2 teaspoon nigella/kalonji/kalo jeera
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted or lightly toasted pine nuts
- lemon juice to drizzle
- salt to taste
- may add fresh herbs, like mint – if you want
In a cast-iron skillet or any heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil until smoking hot. Add kalonji/nigella and the slit hot chili pepper and garlic (if using).
When the spice sizzles, add the asparagus, along with salt and stir well. The asparagus should be well coated and glistening with oil. Continue to stir-fry over high heat for about a couple of more minutes, until the asparagus looks bright green and just barely cooked. The should still be crisp and will not have wilted.
Add the crushed pepper and quickly stir some more. Add the toasted almonds or pine nuts, toss and switch off the heat.
Add lemon juice, toss and serve immediately. (add herbs before serving if you are using herbs)
Preparation Time: less than 15 minutes
Cooking Time: less than 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Very Easy
- Artichoke and Chickpea Salad
- Stir Fried Chicken with Asparagus and Almond
- Frittata with Asparagus
- Sesame and Balsamic Glazed Asparagus Cranberry Tart
- Quinoa with Apricot, Asparagus & Almond