Mezzago’s pink asparagus sagra is now something to look forward to next year, and while my memory is still fresh, I’d like to point out a few things about the event that left an impression.
1: avoid the last Saturday seating. You can bet that procrastinators who missed the previous Saturdays will be there and it’ll be a bit of a wait to get in!
2: don’t bother making up for it by eating at the local restaurants either. The food will be half as good and you’ll end up paying more.
Pictured at left: Palazzo Archinti, location setting for the sagra event.
Below: the restaurant’s asparagus menu
Last week Saturday we had every intention of revisiting our favorites like the asparagus risotto and lasagne, but a long line put the kibosh on that idea and we found a restaurant just around the block. The menu posted outside looked interesting enough.
Gnocchi di patate, pomodorini e punte di asparagi. Doesn’t that sound delicious? What appeared on the plate was more like gnocchetti (little gnocchi), some tiny pieces of asparagus and chopped tomatoes. I couldn’t even tell if asparagus tips were in there, and while tasty, it wasn’t exactly the kind of gnocchi that I had in mind. Then the idea hit me: why not turn it into something better – like this.
10-12 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed, spears sliced on the diagonal into thin pieces
1 shallot, minced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
potato gnocchi for 2 servings (lookie internet)
freshly cracked black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
a pat of butter
grated parmigiano cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Begin by setting the halved tomatoes in a baking pan. Season with black pepper, salt, a few sprigs of thyme and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until soft and caramelized.
Over medium heat, saute shallot in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until fragrant. Add the asparagus and cook until tender; about 4 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Add roasted tomatoes and butter; stir to combine and keep warm.
Cook gnocchi and as they float to the surface, remove and add them to the asparagus and tomatoes. Toss pan to combine and serve immediately with freshly grated parmigiano.