When I first mentioned the idea for an asparagus spread to Nathan, he thought I was crazy. But like the good Huz that he is, he decided to humor me and go along for the ride (he’s supportive like that.) The idea for the spread came to me while we were trying to figure out what to pair our Bridal Brew (Belgian Tripel) with. Tripels are generally considered to be dessert drinks and consumed by themselves and one of the only things that I could find that was recommended to pair with a tripel was, strangely enough, asparagus.
I then asked myself, “who wants a beer with a heaping, steaming, pile of asparagus on the side?” Not me, that’s who. This realization somehow led to the creation of an asparagus based appetizer that helps the tripel to successfully transition from an aperitif to a aperitivo.
We present to you an Asparagus Tapenade Spread in three incarnations: the classic, the Mediterranean, and the Italian. Despite some initial skepticism (ahem, from Nathan), we agreed that the final product was a tasty success. We spread the asparagus on crisp, thin slices of baguette but the tapenade would be just as good with crackers, chips, or (if you were raised in a barn like me) licked straight from the bowl. The rich flavors in the Tripel highlighted and showcased the bright freshness of the asparagus while the asparagus made our taste buds more fully appreciate the depth and dimensionality of the beer. (Don’t try to make any sense of the last sentence…just accept it.)
Edit: So, my sister read this post and gave some cool information that we didn’t know. According to her (she is a chef, by the way), we can’t call this a tapenade because:
“although the Asparagus Spread looks and sounds good it can’t “legally” be called Tapenade. Tapenade comes from the Provençal word tapeo (caper). It has to have capers and some form of olive to be considered Tapenade. If you don’t want to add those ingredients then I would change the name to Asparagus Spread or some play of “spread”.”
A spread it is! You learn something new every day. Although I thought Tapenade sounded way cooler.
1 pound asparagus (thick or thin spears both work for this)
2 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Bring pan with a 1 inch of water to boil over high heat. Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 – 2 inch pieces. Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped. Serve any way you like.
Follow the classic recipe and add a 1/4 cup of feta cheese and 5-10 seedless Kalamata olives.
Follow the classic recipe and add 1/2 cup of basil, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon.