I worked with a physician in the primary care internal medicine clinic last week who quickly established herself as a personal heroine of mine. In our introduction, she handed me a pound and a half of thick, finger-girth asparagus and said, “Enjoy these, which are from my garden.” She had just returned from a walking tour of Sicily (which is exactly my kind of vacation, see South Downs Way), to a forest of asparagus among other towering, verdant vegetables, bison, and chickens. I promptly went home after my first day working with her, newly inspired, and planted tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, kale, lettuce and herbs.
Dr. Ward is a physician who, more than anyone I’ve ever encountered, holds fast to her guiding principles—one of which being the personal responsibility each physician has to drive down the exorbitant costs of health care. She packs a lunch not because she prefers her own cooking but because she maintains that “no lunches are free”—even the institutional cost of a grand rounds sandwich is something she would rather spare patients having to absorb in their fees. Love it. Plus, when you have a sandwich like this from home, stuffed with your home-grown asparagus—how could a free lunch compare? Dr. Ward, this one’s for you. Thanks for the asparagus, and endlessly, for your example as a brilliant woman in medicine.
Grilled Asparagus on Graham Bread with Smoky Chipotle Dressing
Inspired by Food and Wine
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Famous Dave’s BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 jalapeno, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
Salt, preferably smoked salt
2 pounds medium asparagus, peeled and trimmed (From Dr. Linda Ward’s garden, the best internist in Rochester, MN)
Olive oil, for drizzling
Slices of Graham Bread lightly toasted (recipe below)
1/4 cup raisins
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional, I don’t like feta so omitted)
In a blender, combine the ketchup with the mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, garlic and chipotle. Puree until smooth. Season the French dressing with salt.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and spread them out on a large baking sheet to cool.
Preheat a large grill pan. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and season with garlic salt. Grill over moderately high heat, turning, until tender and lightly charred, about 3 minutes.
Spread the cut sides of each roll with 3 tablespoons of the smoky French dressing. Arrange the grilled asparagus on the toasted Graham bread and top with the raisins, scallions and crumbled feta. Eat as you would a piece of bruschetta. Yum!
The sauce, in particular, is new favorite of mine. It is so flavorful and the graham bread really soaks up the flavor and provides a nutty contrast. To make the Graham Bread, you need graham flour, which is ground from red hard wheat berries (organic if you get the Bob’s Red Mill bag as I prefer)
Graham Bread or Pan Completo
Adapted from The Italian Baker
¾ cup sourdough starter
2 cups warm water
3 ¾ cups graham flour
Mix, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit overnight so that flour can develop and relax.
½ cup sourdough starter
1 tablespoon warm water
All the Starter
1 tsp salt
2 cups graham flour or stone-ground whole wheat
1/3 cup all purpose flour for kneading
Stir water into the starter and slowly add flour and salt, slowly stirring the stiff dough and eventually kneading for 10-12 minutes. Slam the dough down on the counter (crashing the dough) toward the end to develop the gluten. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise until doubled, at least 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and cut dough in half. Shape each into an oval loaf to place into oiled loaf pans. Cover with a towel and let rise until tops are at the brim of the loaf pan. Heat the oven to 375. Make parallel slashes across the top of each bread and bake for 40 minutes. I knocked the loaves out of the pans and let them rest on the baking stone to cook the outsides for the last ten minutes.
This bread is also fabulous when toasted and topped with scrambled eggs.