Friday Fuck-Ups: Asparagus Disaster


I just recently found out about Fine Cooking Magazine. Does anyone else read this? It’s actually great — a glossy magazine devoted entirely to recipes and useful cooking tips. None of the boring wine recommendations or 10,000-word essays on strolling through Paris that clog up Gourmet and BonApp. It’s actually more like Cook’s Illustrated, except with color photos.

In the front of the magazine, they have a feature called “What We’re Cooking Now.” They select three seasonal ingredients, and each of three editors details a quick, easy way to use them up. In a recent spring issue, they covered asparagus, arugula, and rhubarb. As you know, we’ve been fiending for ways to use up all this beautiful spring asparagus and arugula, so I was into this idea, and particularly loved one ed’s suggestion for asparagus:

I like to steam asparagus, then shave the salks in fettuccine-like strips with a vegetable peeler, reserving the tips. I toss the asparagus “fettucine” and tips with real fettuccine and a creamy sauce flavored with lemon zest and tarragon.

Brilliant, right? I rushed out to buy some asparagus, envisioning a gorgeously green spring pasta dish, where you couldn’t even tell whether the strands thrown in were veggies or just green pasta.

I boiled my pasta, steamed my asparagus, and then set about “shaving the stalks in fettuccine-like strips with a vegetable peeler.”

Um, no. I did not get fettuccine-like strips. Not at all. I got the mess you see above. Some tiny, ugly little strands that peeled off, and asparagus stalks that just fell apart when I tried to peel them? WTF?

So I ate fettuccine tossed with asparagus tips – and no fancy strands.


The nasty, disintegrating asparagus stalks were too painful to look at and had to be disposed of. Good thing I saved those tips, but this was in no way the classy, impressive spring meal I had in mind.

Where did I go wrong? Did I steam them for too long? Does my vegetable peeler suck? What’s my effing problem?

PS – Fuck-up a dish of your own? (On Friday or any other day?) Do Tell!

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9 thoughts on “Friday Fuck-Ups: Asparagus Disaster

  1. those shaved stalks are as ugly as the PETA ad in the sidebar that features PA’s massive mammary.

  2. The thing I don’t get here is why the recipe calls for steaming then peeling. Doesn’t it make more sense to peel first? This is why we need a blog community, fucking recipe mags as so inconsistent!

    I’ve done a variation of a dish like this before and it came out great, but I don’t even remember cooking the ‘gus. I think I just tossed the peeled with the pasta and sauce and let the residual heat do the work. At most, a 5-10 second blanch to brighten the colors and season is the only work I’d do before adding to the pasta.

    Sucks a sexy dish like that didn’t come out right, def worth a 2nd attempt.

  3. I think you did steam them too long. I would just trying peeling them first, while they have some girth, otherwise it seems they would just turn to mush.

  4. I second Linnea’s suggestion to peel them raw. Then again, it also might depend on how thick and woody your asparagus is. If they’re early-season little buggers and too flimsy and tender, it might not work; but big honkin’ mid-season mothers might be easier to handle.

    We should have a recurring feature for food mag reviews, if we don’t already.

  5. 1) @Christy – i agree… but if you’re gonna ask BS how “thick and woody his stalk is” you need to run that by Alex first

    2) I planted asparagus this year so I’ll try this once I harvest any. Of course, since it takes a year or two to get anything don’t hold your breath. Says less about my patience than it does about uninformed enthusiasm and online nurseries selling asparagus crowns.

    3) @Maids – Completely agree about the PA ad. On a naughty food blog like ES I would at least expect a combination of her first “home video” and whatever PETA brainwashing she’s doing now.

  6. Well, you inspired me to try this dish yesterday, peeling the bases of raw asparugus and throwing them in with saw noodles for 2 minutes of cooking, then mixing in sauteed asparagus tips. it was beautiful and tasty, came out just perfect. I think I fixed your fuck up!

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