Becky’s Asparagus is a simple marinated asparagus salad. The titular Becky was a realtor with Tennessee-based real estate company Crye-Leike in the mid-1990s. This recipe was included in a community cookbook compiled Crye-Leike employees and associates and widely distributed to clients and friends. This is not a particularly complicated recipe. It’s a clever blend of flavors but nothing especially ingenious. What stood out to me was that this was the only asparagus recipe, out of half a dozen or so in the cookbook, that used fresh asparagus instead of canned.
I have a vague awareness of canned asparagus – my grandmother used to serve it for dinner from time to time – but it’s never occurred to me to buy it. I understand that post-war cuisine placed a lot of value on convenience, but these days I’m not even sure who the target audience would be. At my local grocer a can of asparagus is roughly the same price as a pound of fresh. It’s not much of a time saver and is guaranteed to be flaccid and overcooked. In a million years it might be convenient for throwing together a cold asparagus salad, though pickled asparagus is only marginally more expensive and a much better option.
Becky’s Asparagus is a fresher option for a cold asparagus salad. Fresh asparagus spears are cooked until crisp-tender, tossed with pecan slices and marinated overnight in soy sauce, cider vinegar, and salad oil. They can be pulled directly from the marinade and served plain or on a bed of lettuce. The marinade won’t help much if the asparagus is overcooked, but done right this might be a way to convince a skeptic that asparagus isn’t all that bad.
The marinade is quite potent – for best results this should be served with something comparatively bland. As a side salad this should be cut with plenty of lettuce and maybe some cottage cheese. Resist the temptation to use the excess marinade as a dressing – the asparagus will have soaked up plenty of flavor. I served Becky’s Asparagus with a Salmon Pot Pie from the same cookbook, which is more delicately seasoned and has plenty of potatoes to soak up the marinade. You might also consider serving this on top of a simply prepared fish filet or chicken breast and white or brown rice. Enjoy!
- Bring water to a boil. Remove woody stalks from asparagus and boil spears 3-4 minutes until bright green. Remove from boiling water and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Asparagus should be crisp tender and only slightly wilted.
- When asparagus is cooled, place in shallow container or gallon-sized storage bag. Add remaining ingredients and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- Serve cold, directly from the refrigerator, as a side dish or on a bed of lettuce.