Maybe the combination in today’s recipe is inspired by the many ice cream shops around town selling sweet vegetable gelato – cucumber, tomato and many more – but to be honest, I can’t really tell where the idea came from. Let’s say it’s the beautiful sunshine in recent days that sets ideas in our minds. Indeed, weather is (mostly) quite nice in Berlin since a couple of days, and therefore there are currently many options to be outside and in fresh air after a long day’s work or even at lunch time. So many possibilities to have some food in the sun!
The other day, we came across not only many nice small restaurants, delis, and cafés (we will show some of our favorite foody outdoor places in some of the next posts), but also a street food vendor. It immediately reminded me of Vancouver where I had seen such vendors every now and then, the most famous among them being the Japadog vendors… The vendor in Treptow offered Arabian tea and treats, but as we were on our way, unfortunately we did not have the time to stop by for a snack. However, there’s always time to take a photo:
I am not quite sure if green asparagus panna cotta would make good street food. But as it comes in jars, it can indeed be taken (and eaten) outside very well, for example on the occasion of a little picnic. The fine bitter flavor of asparagus fits very well the sweetness and the vanilla touch of panna cotta – and as some part of the dessert is made up with vegetables already and the rest with cream and milk half-half and only few sugar, it’s even not as much a caloric heavy-weight than the classical version.
Some weeks ago already, I also tried another slightly sweet asparagus treat which turned out to be a nice starter for dinner: oven-caramelized asparagus and rhubarb with raw cocoa nibs. Not a dessert, but a fine balance of sweetness, bitter and sour details – which can be prepared not only in an oven like I did, but also as part of a barbecue. Did I mention already that weather is currently so nice in Berlin…
Here are my recipes
Green asparagus panna cotta
For two servings, clean 100 g of green asparagus – you don’t need to peel it if the skin is soft enough. Cut into small pieces. Put 100 g cream and 100 ml milk in a small pot together with 2 tablespoons raw sugar and the pulp of ½ vanilla bean (and the half bean itself). You can of course take cream only (and no milk) for a smoother consistency, but it’s fine with milk as well. Boil up and let simmer with open lid until the asparagus is soft (takes about 5-7 minutes). Take off the vanilla bean and mix the liquid and the asparagus very well with a hand blender. Mix 2 tablespoons of milk with 3 g agar-agar (which is approximately ½ teaspoon if you have big teaspoons, or if you have small ones, take 1 level teaspoon). Pour into the asparagus-liquid, mix well and boil up, let cook for 2 minutes. Fill into jars and put into the fridge for 3 hours.
Prepare the strawberry compote: clean and cut into small pieces 2 handsful of strawberries. Put in a small pot with 1 tablespoon of water and a teaspoon of raw sugar and let simmer at medium heat for about two minutes. Drain the berries and keep the liqid, put the latter back into the pot. Mix a level teaspoon of starch with few cold water and add to the liquid. Boil up and let simmer for two further minutes. Add the berries again, mix carefully and let the compote cool down. Serve the panna cotta with some of the compote on top.
Oven-caramelized green asparagus and rhubarb with raw cocoa nibs
Clean a few asparagus shoots and rhubarb petioles. You don’t need to peel them if the skin is fine enough – if you do, the rhubarb will lose its form in the oven quite quickly as you can see very well on the photos ;-). In a small bowl, mix sunflower oil, raw sugar, a bit of chili flakes and a pinch of salt. Marinate the asparagus and the rhubarb with it. Heat the oven (170 °C) and put the vegetables in. Roast for 7 minutes, turn and roast for another 3 minutes. Both the asparagus and the rhubarb should be soft enough by now – if not, roast a few minutes longer. Take off the oven and sprinkle with cocoa nibs and some lemon thyme or any other herb you prefer. Serve as a starter or a side dish – and enjoy the outdoor food season!
Wow! How interesting! I’ve seen savoury asparagus panna cottas and capuccinos, but never would have imagined asparagus as a sweet dessert, though why not! It is mild and has a green sweetness to it which I am sure must work perfectly. Very nice post!
Thank you very much, Darya! You describe the taste way better than I could have done with your description of “green sweetness”. Wonderful expression!
Now I can imagine what you were talking about :-). I am sure, the slightly bitter green asparagus goes very well with the rest of the panna cotta. And as to the oven-caramalized asparagus – I will have to try it.
🙂 The slight bitterness is indeed a little bit comparable to green tea which is a popular ingredient in sweet desserts as well.
Great that you want to try the oven-caramelized asparagus – hope a lot that you will like it!
The second to the last edition of the german food magazine “Lust auf Genuss” offers three recipes about white asparagus as the main ingredient in a sweet dessert – such as tarte tatin, crème brulée and compote. They have forgotten to ask YOU for your panna cotta. Thanks for the very nice idea!
Great that you like the recipe! Thank you for stopping by and for the hint to “Lust auf Genuss”. Wow, asparagus tarte tatin must be a real hit, as well as crème brûlée – I guess I will have to go and buy that magazine (even though they did not ask me for a panna cotta contribution ;-)).
Ah, those beautiful jarrs again. 😉 I am very curious to find out, how this panna cotta might taste like. It’s hard to imagine. I will definitels try! Thanks for the great idea! 🙂
Thank you! If you give it a try let me know how you liked it.
I love everything that comes in jars just because they are so beautiful…
This is realy awesome! I would never have dreamed of mixing asparagus with sugar and raw cocoa nibs. But I’m sure the combination is a delightful culinary experience. And the panna cotta in these lovely jars looks too nice to eat. Just put it in the kitchen and enjoy the colours every day. Especially on grey, rainy mornings… What a pity it doesn`t last! So, on second thoughts, better put it in your stomach than on the kitchen surface.
As I’m living right in the middle of nowhere, I’ve never seen, let alone eaten sweet vegetable gelato. But you gave me an idea! A big thanks for that.
Have a nice weekend.
Thank you so much, Heike! Indeed, sometimes dishes are so beautiful that you don’t want to eat it – how great that this panna cotta might have this effect, too. I remember breakfast times in a wonderful place in Vancouver where the treats had been served in three (!) courses, one more beautiful than the next, and all this in a Victorian vintage setting – I would have liked to “preserve” the all-over picture and take it home with me.
I can’t wait to see on your blog soon what might have come to your mind regarding vegetable gelato! Have a beautiful weekend, too :-).
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