Horray! Picnic season is back again, and I plan on eating outdoors any time the weather permits over the next months. Yesterday, my friend Chiara and I lounged on a blanket under a shady tree with our babies, eating and chatting for the entire afternoon.
Spring thrills me. The excitement I feel at the sight of the first bright green leaves budding from previously bare branches, the scent of an explosive magnolia tree, or the idea of leaving the house without a jacket is enough to keep a stupid grin fixed on my face for days on end. But the emotions I feel at the sight of the first fresh spring vegetables at the market are borderline fanatical; I blush at the sight of bright green fresh peas, fava beans, and of course, asparagus. I love finding new ways to enjoy what this season has to offer, and this is a great one. Savory muffins are the perfect picnic food and a delicious way to showcase fresh asparagus. So I urge you to make a batch of these as soon as possible, throw them in a basket with a blanket and a bottle of wine and find a green place to lay down and stare at the sky for several hours. I guarantee that you, too, will end the day with a silly grin.
Savory Asparagus Muffins
- 10 oz asparagus
- 2 c (250 g) flour
- 1 c (100 g) cheddar or Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 1/4 c (25 g) parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 eggs
- 60 g di olio d’oliva
- 1/2 c (120 g) milk
- 1/2 c (120 g) nonfat yogurt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Bring a medium sized pot of water boil, then add a teaspoon of salt.
Wash the asparagus, cut off and discard the hard, woody ends. Cut off the tips and set them aside. Slice the rest of the stalks into small pieces (about 1/4 in long) and toss into the boiling water. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the tips and continue to boil for another 5 minutes. Drain, transfer the asparagus immediately to an ice bath, then drain again. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cheeses, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar and stir to combine.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs then add the oil, milk, yogurt, lemon juice and zest and mix well. Stir in the sliced asparagus stalks (but not the tips).
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix delicately until they are barely combined. Do not over mix.
Fill the muffin tins about 2/3 full and decorate each one with one or two asparagus tips. Bake until golden, about 15-18 minutes for large muffins, or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins.