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Asparagus With Anchovies and Capers

This is a common springtime dish in Italy and in a neighboring region of Croatia, Istria, where it’s made with wild asparagus that is thinner than a pencil.

If you can find thin spears at your farmers’ market, use them. The recipe is inspired by a dish in Carol Field’s “Italy in Small Bites.”

1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), peeled, halved, green shoot removed

3 anchovy fillets, rinsed

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound asparagus, preferably thin stalks, trimmed


1. Place the garlic, anchovy fillets and capers in a mortar and pestle, and mash to a paste.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender (do not brown), three to five minutes. Stir in the garlic and anchovy paste, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes or longer. The flavors will mellow.

3. Steam the asparagus for three to five minutes until just tender. Remove to a platter or a wide bowl, and add the remaining olive oil and the onion mixture. Toss gently and serve.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: You can make this through Step 2 several hours before cooking the asparagus.

Nutritional information per serving (four servings): 96 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 3 milligrams cholesterol; 6 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 150 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 4 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

Source:  www.nytimes.com