For me, the best thing about being in a new city is exploring the farmers’ markets. In the center of the city, Amsterdam’s Noordermarkt is filled with Dutch cheeses, smoked mackerel, fresh herring, wild mushrooms, freshly baked bread, flowers, and lots of organic vegetables. I picked out a few ingredients and made a simple vegetable dish. This recipe is versatile and all about using seasonal ingredients, so feel free to use whatever you find at your local market to make substitutions.
Noordermarkt Vegetables: White Asparagus with Leeks and Wild Mushrooms, for 2 as a vegetarian main course, or 4 as a side dish
10-12 stalks fresh white asparagus
1 cup of milk
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs of thyme plus 2 tsps of fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsps of unsalted butter
1 leek, rinsed clean, and then sliced in half lengthwise and then crosswise into ¼” pieces
6 oz assorted wild mushrooms
a handful of arugula
Cut about an inch off of the tougher end of the asparagus spears, and peel off the thick outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Bring the milk, 3 cups of water, the asparagus, and the 2 thyme sprigs to a simmer over low heat. Add a few squeezes of lemon juice, some grated fresh nutmeg, and a dash of salt and pepper. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the asparagus is easily pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tbsp of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme leaves. Cook for a few minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the leeks, and cook until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Add the last tbsp of butter, and the mushrooms. If you have a mix of sizes, slice the larger mushrooms so they all cook evenly. Cook over medium heat for another 15-20 minutes, or until mushrooms are browned and cooked through. If the pan gets dry, you can add more butter. Season with salt, pepper. At the last minute, toss in the arugula, mix until wilted, and then remove from the heat. Plate and serve immediately.
Lay the asparagus spears on a plate and top with a few squeezes of lemon juice. Spoon on the leek and mushroom mixture and season to taste.