My job is to make eating clean, wholesome food simple for you. Research supports that eating well-grown food from healthy soil that is rich in organic matter produces more nutritious food. Buying food from a farmer’s market helps you to avoid produce that has been hauled across the continental United States. Whenever possible, eat food that is local. Eating locally grown food means that you eat foods that are in season in your corner of the world. A touch of culinary diversity will prevent the onset of “in season” produce boredom. Asparagus, one of the first vegetables to shake off winter emerges from the ground like a snub-nosed green snake headed for sunshine, rising so rapidly that you can just about see it grow. Collect asparagus recipes that contain clean, wholesome ingredients that you can obtain from local sources.
Asparagus: the Green Gem of Spring
Pencil thin, spindly, wild asparagus makes its home along the ditches in the Mid-Atlantic. Growing up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore offered countless opportunities to roam the steep embankments for the earliest crop of asparagus. To this day, many of the locals refer to the green perennial as “spar-grass.” With a chill still in the air, we jumped over deep ditches to cut wild asparagus. Too early in the spring equinox for the fiddler crab to occupy narrow waterways, we vaulted the ditch fearlessly.
We bundled our springtime plunder with rubber bands stashed in our pockets. Loading the “green gem of the spring” into the baskets on our bikes, we swiftly peddled home to add our tender shoots to the dinner menu. The optimum time to eat the sturdy vegetable is the same day it gets the knife across the plump neck of the plant. Of course, refrigeration helps to prolong the vegetable but does nothing to enhance the flavor.
Why Most People Don’t Enjoy Asparagus
In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, novelist Barbara Kingsolver asserts that “the main barrier between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude. Maybe you are not a fan of Creation’s crowning glory of early spring, asparagus, because you fill your plate with the mushy frozen from the box sort. Exercise a little food moxie and kick up the flavor by eating fresh asparagus. What about canned asparagus? The canning process pillages the vegetable’s flavor and delivers a slimy, stringy side dish.
As kids, most of us endured overcooked vegetables just so that we could get to dessert. Then, microwave cooking not only diminished the nutritional value of vegetables but altered the taste and texture as well. Unless you were fortunate enough to have a progressive cook in your household growing up, fresh asparagus probably made a rare appearance at your kitchen table.
Revolutionize your palate by refusing to boil any vegetable! Instead, grill or roast your asparagus with a homemade marinade or with butter. Use traditional vegetable oils like avocado and olive for marinades. Avoid canola oil.
How to Store Your Asparagus
Store the bundle in the refrigerator like flowers. Rinse the bundle and recut the ends of the spears about 1⁄4 an inch and stand them upright in a glass container. Re-cutting the stems will expose the fresh tissue and enable the plant to absorb the fresh water.
3 Simple Asparagus Recipes That Will Revitalize Your Love For the Tender Shoots!
Brush 1 1⁄2 asparagus spears with a marinade of 3 tablespoons of melted butter three minced garlic cloves. Season with sea salt and pepper. Grill the asparagus, uncovered, turning once until shoots are tender, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the shoots to a platter. Squeeze the juice from a 1⁄2 lemon or lime evenly over the stalks.
Once you master this recipe, trade out the butter for quality olive oil to add a different flavor. Experiment with adding herbs like thyme or cumin to your melted butter.
- Add 1⁄2 teaspoon of cumin and 1⁄2 teaspoon of coriander to your butter marinade
- Add one teaspoon of orange zest and one teaspoon of thyme to your garlic marinade
Asparagus and Fennel, a Culinary Partnership That Brings Out the Best in Both
Now is the time to kick-off your culinary moxie by cooking with two vegetables that may never have made an appearance in your produce bin. Ina Garten offers a scrumptious recipe that marries the flavors of asparagus and fennel into a delicious partnership.
If you are dairy-free, substitute the heavy cream with a non-dairy alternative or use A-2 whole milk in place of the heavy cream.
Other Ways to Use a Bumper Crop of Asparagus
- add small pieces of asparagus to an omelet, frittata, or quiche
- add chopped, cooked asparagus to soup
- layer grilled asparagus on salads
- top baked potatoes with asparagus tips
- add asparagus tips as a topping on pizza
- incorporate tips and stems into pasta and drizzle the dish with a butter marinade
The abundant availability of in-season crops necessitates you to exercise a little culinary innovation. Here in the east, asparagus enhances our meals until late spring. Collect enough healthful recipes to prevent seasonal eating monotony.