There will always be a special place in my heart for asparagus. I am afterall a valley girl, central valley that is. I was lucky to grow up in a very agricultural part of California, where the freshest fruits and vegetable are readily available. Our most notable vegetable being Asparagus. Come on… they have an annual asparagus festival. It was just this past weekend, but don't worry I didn't miss it entirely, I celebrated in my own way. I included it in pretty much everything I cooked last week. I just heard that it's good for eczema. At this rate, I should never have to worry.
Just when I was starting to feel homesick and bummed that I wouldn't be able to be at the festival, my friend Jon  came to the rescue and brought me the most awesome asparagus from his brother's organic farm, Durst Organics. What a Godsend. I also picked some up from the FM on Sunday, so my fridge was fully stocked with both thick and thin asparagus. Here it is simply grilled. With ingredients like these, they really don't need much doctoring up. Salt, pepper, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Some of the grilled asparagus was eaten up that night as a side dish, while the rest of it made it into  our risotto dinner the next night. I made a risotto with swiss chard, asparagus, spinach and lobster broth. The broth was left over from my second Valentine's Dinner. It's has become a Valentine's tradition for me to anticipate cooking V-day dinner, and then, surprise, we go out to eat. The last two years, I've bought live lobsters and both years they have gotten eaten the day after with our very best friends. This year I made lobster gnudi and had saved the broth. I was going to make a lobster bisque out of it but I was out of vegetable broth, so I thought I'd bust it out to give the risotto some seafood 

flavor. I began by separating the chard stalk from the leaves, since the stalks take quite a bit longer to cook. I sauted them with the abborio rice and some onions and garlic. Once the rice was transparent, I put in about a scant 3/4 cup of white wine and started the slow addition of the lobster broth. When the rice was almost al dente, I began to add the chard leaves. I saved the asparagus, spinach and peas for the end so they would retain their bright green color. Once all the veggies were incorporated I mixed in a handful of parsley, parmasan cheese and heavy cream.  Buying heavy cream by the half gallon is not a very good idea in case you're thinking about it at all. Since I've started do that (for ice cream making, of course) I've become much more liberal with my additions of heavy cream. It does make everything extra creamy and delicious, but I'm going to have to start weaning myself off.
Here's the finished product garnished with none other than stalks of asparagus cut in half lengthwise. It was good but missing something – lobster! The broth was yummy, but also tricked my taste buds into thinking that there would be lobster in it. What a mean, tricky risotto!

By this point, I had been eating asparagus for three straight days and not even close to being sick of it. I don't think I could ever get sick of it.  My next aspara-project was grilled pizza. I made a buckwheat and soy flour crust to healthy it up. This crust is a definite winner. It gets nice and crispy on the grill. I have always preferred a thin crust over deep dish. For me, it's all about the toppings, and who needs bread to get in the way of that? Plus, this way you can eat way more without becoming a bloaty bunny! 

I roasted tomatoes, asparagus and zucchini for my toppings. Since the crust is grilled, the topping need to be cooked beforehand. I also caramelized onions and made two types of pizza sauce. I made a sun dried tomato and basil pesto and a simple spicy tomato sauce. I rolled the crust to about 1/8" and brushed it with olive oil before throwing it on my cast iron grill. I turn it 45 degrees to get the char marks going both ways and once it does, I brush the other side with oil and flip it. This really only takes a few minutes. Time for the fun part.

I spoon my sauce over it, just leaving a slight border. Pizza topping arrangement is all about balance and knowing how to layer in an order that makes sense gastronomically. All I'm saing is that I want a little of everything in each bite. I'm greedy like that!  I put down a thin layer of mozzarella, followed by caramelized onions, tomatoes and the star of it all, asparagus. I finish it off with chopped parsley and crumbled goat cheese. The goat cheese just melts a bit, helping everything stay together. If you're into thin, crispy crusts, you'll flip out over this one. It is pita-like, and has great texture from all the different flours. Bon appetit. Here's to asparagus. Get it while it's in season.

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