Although the unique and fresh taste of local asparagus really shines with simple flavors and seasonings such as butter, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and perhaps a gooey egg, it can be dressed up further after some culinary consideration in a way that doesn’t overpower this treasured vegetable that is never in season long enough for my taste.
Mellow paneer cheese takes on the flavor of a tangy tomato and lemon curry sauce and complements the asparagus with its soft texture. Paneer is ideal because it doesn’t melt when you cook it, further allowing the fresh firm bite and taste of the asparagus to occupy a central role in the dish. To step the dish up a notch,[highlight] make your own curry powder[/highlight] – it won’t take long at all and will keep in a well sealed jar for a good few months.
Asparagus With Shredded Paneer and Tomato
- 3 to 4 sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil
- 3 to 4 shallots, finely sliced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 large bunch of asparagus (1 to 1 1/2 lbs or 450 to 675 g)
- 2 plum tomatoes, partially seeded and finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups paneer cheese, crumbled or shredded
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- small handful of fresh cilantro, or parsley, chopped
Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 – 30 minutes. Drain, chop finely, then set aside.
Heat the butter or oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or wok over medium heat. When hot, toss in the shallots and stir until lightly browned — about 2 to 3 minutes.
Next add the curry powder and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant. Now add the asparagus, stir once, and add the sun-dried tomatoes, half of the plum tomatoes, a few teaspoons of water and a teaspoon of the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover. and simmer until for 10 to 15 minutes or until the asparagus is just tender.
Stir in the paneer cheese and the remaining plum tomatoes and lemon juice along with the salt and cook uncovered, stirring often, for another 3 to 5 minutes to let the liquid reduce. Stir in half of the cilantro and serve right away, garnished with the remaining cilantro.
Makes 4 to 6 servings