I am totally an asparagus junkie. I bookmark piles and piles of asparagus recipes every spring. Unfortunately, I never seem to make as many of them as I'd like - when we have a bunch of asparagus we usually just throw it on the grill. Grilled asparagus is one of life's great pleasures - just toss the spears with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. So simple, so fast and so delicious.
After grilling several bunches of asparagus last week, I did manage to bring myself to use some in a real dish. This is a recipe that I bookmarked two years ago - only now have we gotten around to making it (you see what I mean about my backlog).
I loved the creaminess of this dish. It has lots of flavors going on, with the spices, the chile, the ginger, the garlic, and the asparagus itself, but the coconut milk manages to bind everything together into a tasty whole. The wet, crunchy texture of the asparagus provided a nice contrast with the soft chicken and rice. It made for a yummy dinner - and the leftovers were even better for lunch the next day.
Indian-Spiced Chicken and Asparagus
From Eating Well March/April 2011.
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes
3/4 tsp salt, divided
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 lb asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1/2 c light coconut milk
1/2 c cilantro, roughly chopped
In a small, dry skillet, toast the cumin and fennel seeds over medium heat until they begin to brown (keep an eye on them so they don't burn - I overdid mine a bit, though they ended up tasting fine). Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Toss the chicken with half the spice mixture and 1/4 tsp salt.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the other 1 tbsp oil to the pan. When hot, add the onions, garlic, jalapeno, and ginger. Cook 2-4 minutes, until softened. Add the asparagus and the remaining spice mixture, stir well, and cook another 2 min.
Add the coconut milk and remaining 1/2 tsp salt and cook another 2 min. Return the chicken to the pan and cook 2 minutes more, until asparagus is tender but still crisp. Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.