Wednesday, May 1, 2019



In season mid-April through mid-June, give or take the weather.

To store:

In the Fridge: The best way is to trim a tiny bit off the ends and stand the asparagus up in a jar of water so that the bottom 2 inches of the asparagus is in the water. Keeps up to two weeks, although best if used within 2 days. Second best is to put in a bag in the fridge drawer. Use within a week.

To Prepare:

Rinse dirt off the asparagus by place under running water, or submerging in a bowl of water for a couple minutes and swishing around.
The ends of asparagus tend to be woody, so you want to trim off the bottom 1-2 inches of each asparagus spear before eating (the really young skinny spears may not need trimming). Save those ends (you can just pop them in a bag in the freezer) and make soup or pesto later.
Meal ideas for your asparagus:
o    As a side
o    In egg dishes like omelets, frittatas, and quiches
o    In soups, risottos, fried rice, and skillet meals
o    In pesto, pasta, and pickles

To Freeze: Freezing is a great way to preserve your bounty to use for later.
-        Wash and trim off the ends of the asparagus (save the ends; you can make pesto and soup with them)
-        Bring a pot of water to a boil and place the asparagus spears in it for 2-3 minutes.  This is called blanching.
-        Remove asparagus from boiling water and place in cold water to stop the cooking process.
-        Drain, pat dry, and lie flat on a parchment-line baking sheet.
-        Place the baking sheet in your freezer for 8-24 hours.
-        Remove tray and put the now frozen asparagus into labeled freezer bags.
-        Put the bags back in your freezer and enjoy within the next year.

To Steam:
-        Wash and trim of woody stems.
-        Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.
-        Place steamer basket in pot and add asparagus.
-        Cover and steam until tender, 5-10 minutes.
-        Remove and enjoy!
-        Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days

To Boil:
-        Rinse and trim off woody stems.
-        Place asparagus in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil.
-        Cook until tender, testing frequently. About 5-10 minutes.
-        Overcooked asparagus is gross. Don’t overcook it.
-        Drain asparagus and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.
-        Drain again and enjoy!
-        Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days

To Roast: My All-Time Favorite!
-        Wash and trim off woody ends.
-        Toss asparagus spears with oil and any desired seasonings (I like mine plain, but: salt, pepper, garlic, parmesan, lemon juice, etc are all good choices)
-        Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with oil.
-        Lay asparagus spears on baking sheet and bake at 400-425 degrees for 8-10 minutes, longer if you want crispy and browned edges.
-        Remove from oven and go hide somewhere with the asparagus so you don’t have to share.
-        Store in the refrigerator and use within 4 days

To Microwave:
-        Wash and trim off woody ends. Save those ends to make pesto or soup later!
-        Place asparagus in a microwave safe bowl with 2 tablespoons of water.
-        Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Stir and test.
-        Microwave another 2-3 minutes, until spears are tender but firm. Remember, overcooked asparagus is gross.
-        Drain and cool.
-        Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days

To Grill:
-        Wash and trim off woody ends
-        Toss with some oil and marinate in desired seasonings (sesame seeds, Parmesan, sriracha, bacon-wrapped, garlic, lemon, balsamic vinegar, etc).
-        Lightly oil grill and heat to medium-high heat
-        Place the asparagus crosswise on the grill to keep the stalks from falling through.
-        Turn as needed
-        Keep a sharp eye! The asparagus will be done in 3-5 minutes.
-        Transfer to a plate and enjoy!
-        Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days
Eat Raw: Asparagus is great chopped or peeled in salads or as garnishes

Now that you’ve got a plan for most of the asparagus, what to do with the woody ends?

Make Pesto!
¼ cup olive oil
Asparagus ends from one bunch
1 cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup pine nuts or walnuts (toasted in a dry skillet if desired)
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

Steam asparagus ends until fork-tender. Cool slightly.  
Finely chop the asparagus ends (important! If you leave them in big chunks, the food processer will shred the asparagus and you’ll have stringy pesto).
Add the chopped asparagus ends, basil, pine nuts, and garlic to a mini food processor and pulse, scraping as needed. Add cheese and lemon juice and pulse a few more times. Add the oil in batches until the pesto is your desired consistency.  
Best if used immediately. Place cling wrap on surface to reduce browning if going to keep in the fridge for a couple days or in the freezer for a couple months.

Adapted from “Cooking With Scraps” by Lindsay-Jean Hard

Make Soup!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 large onion, peeled & diced
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 bunches of asparagus, ends only, diced
OR 1 bunch of asparagus, with ends; chop spears into 1-inch pieces, dice ends
¼ cup dry sherry (use chicken broth if avoiding alcohol)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 handfuls fresh mint leaves
Salt, to taste
fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
Red Chili flakes (optional)
Steamed asparagus tips (for garnish, optional)

Heat butter/oil in heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt; cover and cook until tender, 5-10 minutes (keep heat low enough to prevent garlic from browning). 
Add asparagus ends and cook 2-3 minutes. Add sherry and boil for a few seconds. Add broth; simmer over low heat until asparagus is fork tender, 20-40 minutes. Remove from heat, add peas and mint. Cool slightly.
Using an immersion blender, puree until creamy, or puree in blender in small batches. (Optional: to create a thinner soup place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and strain any remaining large fibers through the sieve. Help the liquid through by mushing down with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon). Add salt, pepper, and more sherry to taste.
Serve in bowls, swirl with olive oil, and sprinkle on chili flakes, if desired.

Adapted from “Cooking Scrappy” by Joel Gamoran

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