Recipe Source: Brennan, Georganne. Cooking from the Farmers' Market. Time-Life Books, New York, 1999 p. 40
I found and flagged this recipe way back when I first got this book. It looked fabulous - like an exciting new way to eat asparagus, which is one of my favorite vegetables. Unfortunately, I never really had an opportunity to make it. Either I didn't think of it, or it wasn't appropriate for the occasion. Well, we were throwing an impromptu dinner party and I figured that it would be a great opportunity to give this a shot. I had to make a substitution because of the dietary restrictions of one of our expected guests, but that was okay. It was still going to happen, and that was the important thing. Then, of course, we had too many leftovers from the previous night to serve new dishes the next night, so it didn't get made.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks. My husband wanted to cook pizzas on our Big Green Egg, but the pizzas were going to be "kind of small." Perfect! Rather than let the asparagus - which was past its prime by now, and needed to be used immediately lest it compost in my fridge - go to waste, I would make this dish. A minor disaster involving red chard (which I'll write about some other time) had yielded a large number of chard stalks. Quite a few sources have recommended treating chard stalks like asparagus. It also made up for the asparagus spears that were too far gone to use, so I decided to go for it.
Since I planned to serve this to a lot of people, I had already planned to double the recipe. One of our expected guests had an allergy to cow's milk, so I substituted Drunken Goat for the requisite teleme. The recipe recommended tarragon should chervil prove difficult to find, which it did, so that's what I used. Ultimately the dish turned out well. My husband was a little aghast when he saw me cooking up the tortillas - "Are those fried? They'll kill me!" - but you're using a minimal amount of oil and the tortillas really don't absorb that much of it. The chard stalks were a little stringy and therefore difficult to eat this way, but they still tasted good. If you prefer to avoid this problem, use all asparagus. You can probably bring the cost per serving down by serving this closer to asparagus season and not shopping at the priciest grocery store in town. You could also serve 12 as an hors d'oeuvre with this dish, although it makes a substantial side dish or light main dish for 6. I tried the book's method for cooking the tortillas, but I got frustrated with the process and inverted it. My method was a lot easier on my hands!
1/2 bunch of asparagus, trimmed if necessary
Stalks from two bunches of red chard
1 tablespoon olive oil (you may not use all of it)
12 flour tortillas
6 oz (approx.) Drunken Goat cheese. (If this is difficult to find, gouda will do.)
1 bunch tarragon
- Vegetable peeler
- Bamboo steamer with two tiers
- Put water into the saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Put the chard stalks and asparagus into the steamer baskets. You may need to halve the chard stalks.
- Steam the vegetables for 3 - 4 minutes. Remove them from the heat and transfer the baskets to your work area.
- Using the vegetable peeler, peel off very thin slices of the cheese. (You laugh, but it works.)
- Heat a small amount of oil in the skillet over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, assemble a wrap: Place a couple sprigs of tarragon down the center of a tortilla. Top that with a couple slices of cheese (2 or 3). Then lay 2 - 3 spears of vegetable on top of that, leaving a little space at the bottom.
- Fold the bottom part of the tortilla up so the spears are in the fold of the bottom. Fold the left side over. Fold the right flap over the left side.
- Put the wrap seam-side down in the oil. Prepare the next wrap while the first cooks.
- Cook the wrap for 1 - 2 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the tortilla begins to brown.
- Flip the wrap and cook 1/2 - 1 minute, just to get the browning even.
- Transfer the finished wrap to the serving plate. Repeat steps 6 - 10 until all the tortillas are used. You may need to add oil to the pan, which is why I called for a whole tablespoon even though you might not need all of it.
- Serve hot!