Santa Maria is out of town on a business trip, and Nina and Pinta and I are on our own for a couple of days. Louis Pasteur said "Chance favors the prepared mind," to which I would add "Dinner favors the prepared cook." With a little forethought, a fresh homemade dinner can be on the table in minutes.
Last night I came home from work late, had a snack with the kids, read to them, put them in bed, and turned around to see that the clock said 8:30. I hadn't had dinner yet. The urge to be lazy and order out hung on my arms like a wet sweater—I had a hard time shaking it off.
I knew things might end up this way, so before Santa Maria departed, I had prepared a few things. Part of that mad cooking spree on Sunday involved roasting two chickens; the second bird was for this week. Also, on that Sunday night I made a pot of rice, to eat over the same period. And I always keep some of my black beans in the freezer, so the kids dinner was easy—rice and beans, which their babysitter served them before I got home, along with a couple of quesadillas, and a few stalks of asparagus with a vinaigrette.
After they were in bed, I had a very similar meal ready in no time at all. I substituted roast chicken for the quesidillas, and I topped my asparagus with a few slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano. I wasn't going to take any chances. I wanted a tasty dinner.
Asparagus and Parmesan
- As many stalks of asparagus as one might like, washed with the thick end broken off.
- Slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
There are two ways to cook the asparagus. If you are in a hurry, they can be steamed on the stove top in a frying pan with a little water. This will take about ten minutes. Just keep an eye on them, and cook them as much as you like.
Roasting is a slightly more tasty way to cook the vegetable. It is a bit more time consuming than steaming them on the stove top, but it is not more work. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the stalks out on a roasting pan and dribble a tiny bit of olive oil on them. Roll them around and salt them a bit. Roast in the oven for about twenty minutes, or until as tender and crispy as you might like.
Slice the Parmesan thinly, and plate the cooked stalks with the slices on top. Enjoy.