Heirloom asparagus varieties include Mary Washington and Precoce d’ Argenteuil. The rich, earthy taste of fresh asparagus stands up well to stronger flavors (such as the sesame seed oil and ginger in the recipe below), making it a wonderfully versatile ingredient.
- 12 spears fresh asparagus
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 1 T. sesame oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 T. sesame seeds
- 12 thick slices deli-style turkey breast
Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. In a large skillet, heat vegetable and sesame oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add asparagus, stirring to coat with oil. Continue sautéeing over medium-high heat, rolling the spears as needed so that they brown but don’t burn. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the asparagus stalks: Slender stalks will require only about 5 to 6 minutes to become tender yet still firm to the bite, while thicker stalks may take 10 to 11 minutes. About three minutes before you estimate the asparagus will be done, add the ginger and stir to coat the stalks well. Then, about one minute before the asparagus is done, add the sesame seeds, again stirring well. Sesame seeds brown very quickly, so watch closely to avoid burning.
Remove from heat. Using tongs, remove stalks from skillet and place on a plate to cool. Handle them gently to avoid shaking off seeds. When the stalks are cool, roll each in a turkey slice, centering the slice on the stalk so the ends show. Serve at room temperature.