Tomorrow is the spring equinox when hours of daylight and darkness equalize. In many climes it is time to sow and harvest cereal grains like barley, oats and wheat. Jews mark the time between Passover when the wheat is planted and Shavuot when it is harvested by counting the days (the “omer”) and praying for ripening and a bountiful harvest.
Traditional hand reapers bound stems of grain together into bunches, called sheaves. I blanched and tied these asparagus stems that resemble grain sheaves to represent the healthy harvested grain we envision as we plant.
Ingredients to serve 2
For the sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon umeboshi plum paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice (and more to taste)
Make the sauce
Whisk together the tahini, ume plum paste and lemon juice until consistency is smooth and all ingredients are well-combined. Taste and adjust.
Blanch the asparagus
Trim each asparagus stem and use a peeler or paring knife to shave the tough outer skin of each. Rinse and set aside. Rinse the scallions.
Fill a medium-sized skillet about 3/4 full of water.
Add a pinch of salt and bring water to a roiling boil.
Drop the asparagus spears into the water. When they turn a more vibrant shade of green and float to the top of the water’s surface, they are done (this should take about 2 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus stems). Use a wire mesh strainer to fish them out of the water.
Now cut the scallions lengthwise into about 4-6 strips each. These will be used to wrap and tie the asparagus. Bunch together 7 of the blanched asparagus spears and wrap a length of scallion around them one or two times; then tie it.
Cut one of the lemons into wedges.
Arrange each asparagus “sheaf”, tahini sauce and a lemon wedge on a plate and serve.
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