Asparagus is plentiful in the market in Mexico these days. And so fresh!
Here a nice Mediterranean way to present them, and very healthy too!
1- Cook the asparagus in boiling water, cutting off the hard tip. (do not steam them as they would lose most of their vitamins)
2- To serve: place the asparagus on a plate and gently top with some Moroccan lemon preserves (recipe below) cut in small cubes, a spoon of extra virgin olive oil and some za’atar (recipe below).
Moroccan lemon preserves (leemoon m’raqad)
The Moroccan preserves are a delight and I use them often with fish or chicken dishes. They add an nice tang to any dish, including salads and pasta.
1- Wash and scrub four lemons. Cut the ends. Cut them in quarters leaving them attached at the base.
2- Fill each with two teaspoons of high quality salt (I used “fleur de sel”).
3- Close back the lemons by squeezing them and placing them in a sterilized preserve jar. Add the juice of two lemons and close. Place in a cool unlit place for four days (I placed it at the back of the kitchen cabinet covered with a towel).
4- After four days, open the jar and press the lemons towards the bottom of the jar with a large wooden spoon to let the juices out. Add the juice of two or more lemons until the preserved lemons are covered. Close again and keep in a cool unlit place for at least a month. The longer they stay the better.
Tip: When opening them, if you see some white on the skin just rinse it out with the liquid from the preserve. It is not toxic.
Za’atar is a simple Middle Eastern spice mix that gives a great taste to almost any dish. I like to have it in the morning sprinkled on olive oil with toast and white cheese.
1- Roast a tablespoon of sesame seeds and let it cool thoroughly. Grind slightly in a mortar.
2- Add a quarter cup of Sumac, two tablespoons of dry thyme, two tablespoons of dried marjoram, two tablespoons of dried oregano and about a teaspoon of salt (preferably coarse).
3- Mix well and keep in a tight container. It lasts for about six months.