Asparagus and Parmesan

I am a faithful follower of Marion Nestle. (http://www.foodpolitics.com)  I noticed a well meaning comment from a reader the other day. The reader (and another concurring with her) pointed out that childhood obesity was not going to stop with a diet of starchy vegetables and sugary fruit and healthy meat was the answer.

Of course this did not sit well with me, but other readers jumped on the various explanations of why this was also problematic, inaccurate, not the point, etc. The problem is the huge increase in sugary drinks and processed, empty calories coupled with a sedentary lifestyle.

We have the cure for this disease that has become a worldwide epidemic, but we are not properly implementing it. If it were a vaccine, I’m sure Bill and Melinda would get it out there. Can you imagine if someone had the cure for ALS or breast cancer and didn’t do everything in their power to make that cure known and available to the entire world?

But we know that exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet, limiting or eliminating processed food and sugary drinks and doing all of these things consistently, can eliminate childhood obesity. We know that. But we continue to let Big Food market to our kids and we let our government subsidize the corn and wheat that is processed into all of these horrible food products, making them artificially cheap and therefore more affordable to poor people than fruits and vegetables. We don’t teach proper nutrition in our schools and we still don’t feed our children properly in those schools. The period in LAUSD ironically called “Nutrition” is when our children eat junk food. This same period in the day was called recess when I was a kid and we ran around and played. There was no junk food on the playground and it certainly was not sold at any on-campus store.

There are a lot of really smart people in this world. Any suggestions as to what to do?

Enough ranting for today. Asparagus is coming into season. I love the great big stalks. They have tons of flavor and allow for more variation in their presentation. Here is a recipe that takes advantage of their size.

Ingredients

  • Bunch of Large Asparagus (10-12 stalks)
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Mandolin (optional)
  • Peeler
  • Sauce Pan
  • Whisk
  • Mixing Bowl
  1. Cut the hard ends off of the asparagus.
  2. With a peeler, whittle the last couple of inches, exposing the white flesh.
  3. Soak the asparagus in ice-cold water for about 20 minutes.
  4. Put a pot full of water on to boil. If you happen to be making pasta, then use that water before you cook the pasta.
  5. Toss the asparagus in the boiling water for about a minute.
  6. Remove and return to the ice bath to stop the cooking.
  7. Remove and pat dry.
  8. With a mandolin (or peeler, or knife) slice thin spears. you can shave the parmesan at the same time.
  9. In the mixing bowl, make a vinaigrette by combining 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar. 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 cup vinegar should be plenty. Add minced shallot, salt and pepper and whisk.
  10. I like to toss the asparagus with the dressing, but you can drizzle over the dish if you would like.
  11. Layer asparagus and parmesan and serve.
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