There’s that palpable change happening again – a sense of building anticipation and elation as the weather warms. On Monday evening while driving to a friend’s, it struck me how odd and wonderful it was that at 7:30 pm there was a golden evening glow about the sky – it felt too late to still be light out, but here we are. I had made my peace with those early dark nights – as I do every winter – because I kind of enjoy them for a little while, and because there’s no escaping them. But when these long evenings return it feels like falling in love. San Francisco’s been in the grip of an early little burst of heat, and the city comes alive under its magnificent spell. There’s an electricity in the air, a sense of togetherness in our hustle, a sense of anything-is-possible-ness. It’s invigorating.
So I’m spending my evenings outside on the deck, resurrecting my little garden, marveling at a breathtaking city view that I try not to take for granted after five years here, and turning on the stove as little as possible. I love this time of year.
In April, Maggie Battista and I adventured out to Berkeley Bowl – perhaps one of the best local spots to take anyone enthusiastic about food, and especially produce. It’s unmatched in variety and weirdness. We got some green almonds there. She brought hers back with her on the plane – I like anyone who brings food home from travels. That Friday I dined at one of my favorite local spots, Heirloom Cafe. I had been mulling what to make with those green almonds until I had some roasted asparagus dressed with a gorgeous salsa rustica there. While there were no green almonds in theirs, it was totally obvious that a salsa rustica was the perfect home for these tart, crunchy young almonds.
Happy Spring, gang! Happy Friday. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend.
2 shallots, minced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green almonds (rinse thoroughly!)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for cooking asparagus
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch asparagus
4 quail eggs or two hen eggs, optional
In a mixing bowl, toss the shallots and green almonds with the red wine vinegar. Set aside to macerate for at least 15 minutes.
If using quail eggs, bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Using a slotted spoon, carefully drop the quail eggs into the water, and set a timer for 3 minutes. Drain, and place in an ice bath to cool. Set aside.
Next, add the capers, parsley and thyme to the bowl with the shallots and green almonds. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over a medium flame. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the asparagus, and saute until tender, about two to three minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the spears.
Divide the asparagus among four plates. Top generously with salsa rustica.