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Recipes and Stories

26 April 2018: Asparagus, Leeks, and New Potatoes

Stir-Fried Asparagus with Leeks and New Potatoes

Before the season for asparagus passes completely, here’s another great stir-fry that brings it together with two other favorite spring flavors, young leeks and little red new potatoes.

This is the kind of thing my mother would make when I was growing up, since Stir-frying is one of her favorite cooking techniques. Not only is the technique quick, it does wonderful things for the fresh produce that is no further than her back yard.

This one is a little more involved than the simple asparagus and ham stir-fry from my recent recipes and stories piece of April 6, since the potatoes are precooked so that they finish at the same time that the asparagus does. But since it combines two vegetables into one dish, it’s like making two side dishes in one. And the potatoes can be steamed a day ahead, or you can even use leftover potatoes as long as they’ve not been highly seasoned.

When I taught this in that recent private cooking class, it was one of the favorite dishes and the one that the most students said they were definitely going to make. And there was chocolate on the menu, which tells me it must not be too bad!

Stir-Fried Asparagus with Leeks and New Potatoes

Serves 4

½ pound small red new potatoes, scrubbed under cold running water
1½ pounds fresh, fat-stemmed asparagus
Green tops of 2 large leeks, washed and trimmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill
1 tablespoon minced flat leaf parsley

1. Bring at least an inch of water to a boil over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pot. Put the steaming basket or insert in or over the pot, add the potatoes, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Steam until the potatoes are just tender and can be pierced easily with a sharp paring knife, about 8-10 minutes. Let them cool, and if making them ahead, cover and refrigerate. They can be precooked as much as a day ahead.

2. Meanwhile, wash and trim the asparagus, peel the tough lower part of stem, and cut it into 1-inch lengths, keeping the tips separate from stems. Slice the leek greens crosswise into 2-inch lengths, then cut into thin strips. When ready to finish the sauté, cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces (halves if small, quarters if larger, eighths if really large).

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the asparagus stems. Stir-fry, tossing frequently, until they’re bright green and beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and continue tossing until beginning to turn golden, about 3 minutes longer.

4. Add the leek greens and asparagus tips and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir-fry, tossing frequently, until the asparagus is crisp-tender and beginning to brown, but still firm and bright green. Stir in the parsley and turn off the heat. Taste and correct salt and pepper and serve at once.

Recipe and some text adapted from Beans, Greens, & Sweet Georgia Peaches, 2nd Edition (Globe Pequot Press), copyright © 2014 by Damon Lee Fowler, all rights reserved.

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