General Medical

Ro Howe’s Recipes: Minted White and Green Asparagus With Pecorino Polenta

Our favorite chef, Ro Howe—owner of Barraud Caterers in New York City and a veteran contributor to Women’s Voices for Change—welcomes spring with this response to our April Invitation.


After the brutish, bully winter we’ve just experienced, we in the Northeast are searching for signs of the arrival of spring as eagerly as we look forward to meeting a new baby for the first time—yearning to see tiny fingers, nails the size of raindrops, eyelashes like a small bird’s feathers. We want to feel the gentle half-smiles of pastel-shaded sunshine and brief, brisk breezes—the last breaths of March’s lion—yield to the tightly held buds on bushes; the watercolor-blue skies brushed with the wisps of clouds; small urgings of growth through earth.

Spears of asparagus are a sure indication that the lion’s chain has snapped, allowing the exasperated grumps of endless snowstorms to be transformed into the energized beneficence of spring. We spring forward as asparagus springs upward. Here’s our welcome to both!


Minted White and Green Asparagus With Pecorino Polenta



Yield: Eight portions as an appetizer.

Equipment: Cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring cups and spoons, medium metal bowl, rubber spatula, microplane grater, vegetable peeler, medium saucepan, wooden spoon, medium 11-inch sauté pan, small casserole.

1 2/3 cups yellow cornmeal
1 2/3 cups water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely minced onion
1 quart chicken broth
2 2/3 cups heavy cream
¾ cup mascarpone
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 ½ cups grated Pecorino
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 bunch peeled, trimmed white asparagus
1 bunch peeled, trimmed green asparagus

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup freshly chopped mint



For the polenta, combine and stir the cornmeal and water together in a bowl and set aside.

Heat a medium-sized saucepan and add oil and butter. When there’s rippling on the surface, add minced onion and sauté over moderate heat until transparent and cooked.

Add chicken broth and cream and bring to a boil. Slowly stir in the cornmeal. Turn the heat down to moderate and keep stirring the pan, scraping the bottom and sides for at least 10 minutes. Taste to test for doneness. The polenta should be smooth and creamy. Add the mascarpone and season with salt and pepper. Off the heat, stir in the grated Pecorino. Taste for seasoning. Keep covered and warm.

Trim the peeled asparagus into 1- to 1 ½-inch lengths.

Heat a medium-sized sautė pan. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. When oil is rippling, add a large handful of white asparagus. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sautė till cooked and getting golden. Remove to small roasting pan or casserole. Repeat until all the asparagus has been cooked. Heat the pan and add the butter. Heat and add the chopped mint to wilt. Dress the asparagus with the mint butter and toss together.

Using a large ice-cream scoop or kitchen spoon, portion the polenta onto heated plates. Top with minted asparagus. Enjoy the warmth and comfort of the creamy polenta and the sprightly emergence of spring in the asparagus.



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