Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Asparagus Days

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I've been reading a lot of gardening blogs lately to help hasten my horticulturally-challenged learning curve. Even though some of them are a bit advanced for my skill level, I'm learning a lot - and even as a brand new gardener I can often find something I can relate to. So when Margaret of A Way to Garden (one of my new favorite blogs) wrote the other day that she is "on the asparagus diet," I had to laugh because that is so very true here in our house, too.

Just a few weeks ago when we moved into this house I was lamenting the fact that I couldn't FIND the asparagus patch that the previous owners told us existed. Now we can't keep up with its bounty. What we've discovered since I last posted about the asparagus patch is that it runs the entire length of our vegetable garden (on the right side of this photo) and appears to be about 6 feet in width.

That's a LOT of asparagus for a family of four, one of whom (that would be The Husband) hates to look at the stuff and refuses to eat it. (He is also hoping that our sellers planted this patch 35 years ago, because the thought of this asparagus being with us until we die is causing him agita.) I've been trying to tell him how much this stuff would cost in the grocery store, but that hasn't swayed him. "If you know I wouldn't be eating it, you wouldn't be buying it in the grocery store, so how is this saving us money?" Um ... because me and the kids are devouring the stuff. (Yes, happily, Boo is a new convert to asparagus. Parmesan cheese does the trick every time.)

I've also been trying to see if there is a local food bank that might accept some fresh produce, but I'm not sure if that's going to work out. In the meantime, here are just a few pictures of the amounts we've been harvesting.

April 22, 2012

April 27, 2012  (this is just after a few minutes of picking and only represents about half of what we picked that evening)

Another bunch of asparagus from April 27, 2012 

As for what I've been making with all of this asparagus? Plain old pasta with asparagus and drizzled with olive oil is in high rotation on our dinner table.  I'll roast the asparagus in olive oil at 400 degrees, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. The kids will then douse their dishes with more Parmesan.  The Husband foregoes the asparagus altogether in favor of tomato sauce. Tonight was a slight variation: pasta, asparagus, chopped tomatoes, feta cheese ... all drizzled with olive oil. 

Over on one of my favorite recipe sites, Simply Recipes, Elise has an amazing recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup, which I made on Thursday night.  It was divine.  (I didn't take any photos, but that's OK ... Elise's photos are much better.) Boo had TWO BOWLS of the Cream of Asparagus Soup and I had two bowls for lunch the next day. It was even better the next day.  This now rates as one of my favorite soups and I want to make this again before asparagus season ends. (If our wacky spring weather continues like this (we had a freeze warning last night and snow flurries this morning!) I'm pretty sure there are a few more bowls of Cream of Asparagus soup in our future.)

I'm planning to make that Easy Asparagus Parmesan Bake on A Way to Garden, the Spinach Pasta with Asparagus Pesto from the April 2012 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray, (although I'll probably use cavatappi pasta instead) and an Asparagus Risotto. 

Do you have a favorite asparagus recipe I should try? (And if you have an asparagus patch, how long has it been producing?)

Updated 4/30/2012: I made the Easy Asparagus Parmesan Bake tonight. More than half of this was eaten by yours truly. The rest was eaten by Boo, along with chicken and macaroni and cheese.  Betty decided to take a break from asparagus this evening. (Can't really say that I blame her.)

But this was delicious and has earned a spot in our asparagus rotation of recipes.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Marg said...

Asparagus is one of those things that I only eat when I go to a restaurant. I think I have only cooked it at home once.

Glad you are enjoying your bounty though

Beth F said...

Color me totally jealous! What a fantastic harvest and just thinking about all that fresh yummy asparagus has my stomach growling.

Peggy said...

Melissa I just cooked asparagus the other night in a pasta dish! We rarely eat it because of the price. Brown pancetta til crispy remove from pan, wipe out pan, sauté scallions in butter & olive oil mixed, cook shell pasta while doing this. Cut pancetta in thin slices. Combine pancetta, scallions, pasta and sprinkle liberally with Parmesan. This recipe did not call for asparagus but I cut it up and cooked it in a little water and then added to the scallions when sauting and it was delicious. You do have a lot of asparagus!

Lisa Gradess Weinstein said...

Melissa, we always buy fresh asparagus, can you share your recipe for the soup?

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

You seem to be doing quite well with the garden, kudos to you. My family loves asparagus, it is one of the few vegetables that my husband will eat.
We like it roasted, drizzled with olive oil, sea salt and sprinkled with parmesan flakes. My sister-in-law wraps it in bacon and roasts it, and my sons love it.

Christina said...

So jealous, and inspired! We love it, if we lived closer, we'd take some from you.....but you've inspired me to plant some in our garden!!

PS We just love it roasted in the oven for awhile, tossed with some EVOO and kosher salt!

Moira said...

Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? It's about eating local and in season, which is what you'll do with a vegetable garden! There are probably some recipes in it and I remember a lot of asparagus talk. Good for you! My family loves asparagus too, wish I could share in your bountiful harvest!