When the freshest spring asparagus hits my local markets, I could eat it every day—and often do, roasting the spears to unleash their best flavors. Minutes to prepare, good hot or at room temperature, they’re excellent for the quickest weekday dinner.
But for the seders, I primp them up a bit. Instead of merely snapping off the tough ends, I usually trim the lower stalks with a few shaves of the vegetable peeler and tie them with scallion ribbons into pretty bundles for easy serving. And sometimes I cloak them with savory toasted matzoh crumbs for contrasting crunch. While matzoh meal works well here, coarse crumbs home-prepared from whole matzohs really make this dish shine. If you can steal the time, it is worthwhile making a large batch to have on hand throughout the holiday.
Make the topping: heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the matzoh meal or crumbs, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the matzoh meal is light golden brown. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the tarragon and lemon zest, and set aside.
Cut 8 long strips from the green part of scallions (reserve the white parts for another use, such as the Salad of Bitter Herbs). Poach the scallion strips in boiling water for 1 minute to make them pliable, then remove them and pat them dry. Divide the asparagus spears into serving size portions and use the scallion strips to tie each portion with a knot or bow into a flat bundle.
Arrange the asparagus bundles on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Transfer the bundles to a serving platter. Drizzle with lemon juice and dust with the toasted matzoh crumbs.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.