Friday, July 3, 2009

Stir-Fried Asparagus with Almonds

A few weeks ago when I was leaving the public library, this book on the display, Best American Side Dishes, caught my eye. After flipping through the pages, I was instantly sold, (or rather "borrowed"). It's a great book compiled by the editors of Cook's Illustrated devoted entirely to side dishes, such as appetizers, pasta salads, and a wide variety of vegetables. I took it out primarily to find ways to make vegetables more exciting* but found that the book is full of handy tips, such as how to cut broccoli properly (I didn't even know there was a "right" way to do it!) and recommendations on the best brands of foods and cooking equipment. In fact, I am a little sad that I have to return the book today, that I may actually buy it from the bookstore one of these days.

* I never liked veggies as a kid. Mostly because my mom's idea of cooking them was as my sister called it, "boil until dead." Or in some cases, "Fry, until dead." So I am always looking for new ways to cook vegetables and would be happy to hear suggestions!

And of course, here's a recipe adapted from Best American Side Dishes:

Stir-Fried Asparagus with Almonds

½ cup low-sodium chicken broth (I dissolved 1 teaspoon of no sodium chicken bouillon in ¾ cup of boiling water)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of oil + ½ tablespoon reserved (recipe called for peanut oil, I used light olive oil)
1 ½ lbs asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces
3 medium minced garlic cloves, minced
Sliced almonds (optional - I threw these in at the end because I thought it would look pretty)

1. Heat two tablespoons of oil. Add the asparagus and cook until browed (about five minutes). Add seasonings.

2. This is Cook’s Illustrated method for avoiding burnt garlic: Clear a space in the center of the pan, add garlic and the remaining ½ tablespoon oil. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth mixture and toss to coat the asparagus. Cook until the sauce is syrupy, about 30 seconds. Top with almonds for garnish. Serve immediately

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