For the pickled mushrooms:

2 quart containers of honshimeji mushrooms; a mix of brown and white is preferred

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 head of garlic, top trimmed

3 branches thyme

1 tablespoon coriander, crushed

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 quart mushroom or vegetable stock (store-bought stock is fine)

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

For the onion puree:

2 large onions, peeled, diced fine

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup milk

To finish:

1 bunch pencil asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped tarragon or chives

1. Quickly blanch the mushrooms in boiling, salted water for a minute. This helps remove the bitterness. Strain and reserve. In a saucepot, warm the olive oil, add the head of garlic cut-side down and toast until golden. Add thyme, coriander, and pepper and toast for a few seconds. Add stock and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes. Let cool, keep the mushrooms submerged in liquid.

2. Put a large saucepot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and onions. Season the onions with salt, reduce heat, and cover. Sweat the onions until translucent, add a tablespoon of water if they start to brown. When the onions are soft and sweet, add the milk and simmer for two minutes. Strain the onions from the liquid and place onions in blender, reserving liquid. Blend the onions, adding some of the liquid until it makes a smooth, but not watery, puree.

3. Saute the asparagus in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the shallots when the asparagus is almost finished cooking and is nicely roasted. Next add two cups of the mushrooms and liquid, bring to a boil. Use about ½ cup of the onion puree and thicken to desired consistency. Finish with fresh herbs.

From Josh Lawler of the Farm and Fisherman

Per serving: 240 calories, 9 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams sugar, 18 grams fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 528 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber