I can tell spring is here when the tender green asparagus shoots sprout in my garden. Growing something that takes several years to harvest enough to feed a family of five for one dinner is definitely a labour of love, but good things are worth waiting for.
Until that time comes, like you, I have to buy it at the store. Then I gorge on it while in-season and more reasonably priced. Right now local asparagus is on sale as production picks up across B.C. and the Western states.
Asparagus typically doesn’t preserve well, so you have to make the most of them while they are available. Here are three simple recipes that will let you enjoy the refreshing taste of this herbaceous spring vegetable.
3 Recipes for enjoying fresh asparagus
Roast them: One of the best ways to enjoy fresh asparagus is to snap off the ends of the woody stems, add salt or herb salt, a few slices of lemon or grated zest and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast it on a sheet pan at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, turning once during cooking. Leftover roasted asparagus (if you have any!) can be chopped into salads on the second day.
One pot asparagus pasta: Slice into 2-inch pieces and add to the water of penne or other pasta you are cooking in the last 2 minutes of boiling. Drain it with the pasta but set aside a big mug of hot cooking liquid. Toss the pasta and asparagus back into the pot, adding a few good glugs of olive oil, 2-3 cloves of freshly minced garlic and a hearty cup of grated parmesan cheese. Add hot cooking liquid, the juice of 1 lemon, a few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir until creamy. Add more salt and olive oil or a spoon of butter to taste. Don’t skimp on the oil, salt and butter because simple ingredients need salt and fat to elevate them.
Simplest soup: This asparagus soup is remarkable in its simplicity. You can use chicken or vegetable broth and compliment it with the tiniest bit of fresh thyme or chopped chives if desired. You can enjoy this soup over several days.
Take advantage of asparagus while it’s at its peak freshness and its best value, typically lasting through May.