Really? A post on asparagus? Yes, I honestly look forward to May when these green stalks appear at the grocery store. I know I will be making meals that we only enjoy for one month each year. It has won over the palates of each member of this household and has become one of our favourite vegetables.
We have been buying local asparagus for the past five years. Before that, we had it at restaurants or in little sandwiches at church functions, but never really considered it as a staple vegetable for our household. That all changed with our desire to eat seasonally and a few key recipes.
The sad part (because it is so delicious) is that its season is short. It only appears in grocery stores for a few weeks each year. If you strive to eat seasonally and locally, then your asparagus intake will be limited to about one month each year. Here it costs us about $3-$4 per pound and the quality can be hit-or-miss.
Recently, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Vegetable Miracle and she dedicates a whole chapter to asparagus. She convinced me that it was time for us to carve out space in our garden and plant asparagus. Everyone says it is a lot of work to plant asparagus, so do not be fooled. It really is a lot of work! I decided to plant 20 crowns and it took me a few hours. (Note: we built raised garden beds because we do not have much space, so it was simpler to plant the crowns starting with a “clean bed”). The hardest part is knowing that the crowns may take up to three years to produce enough edible stalks to eliminate our need to buy asparagus (and that is if they survive and thrive). However, once they start producing, the plant can continue for about 20 years! A long term investment with wonderful returns.
Our girls love to help make meals with asparagus because they get to snap off the woody ends, preparing the stalks for cooking. The sound of the stalks snapping captivates them and subsequently seeing whose stalk ended up longer (or shorter) adds a nice “game” effect to the meal prep.
We love to roast asparagus because it is quick and delicious. I usually add some olive oil, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. However, our family favourite is asparagus pizza. David and I also enjoy asparagus, mushroom and red pepper strudel, but the mushrooms and red pepper are a tougher sell for the girls. Instead of making the strudel, using the roasted veggies on bread is an easy and delicious sandwich. And one of my personal favourites, is cream of asparagus soup.
So, I hope you will forgive those who relegated asparagus to little sandwiches. Try it as the main attraction on pizza. You might just start looking forward to May 2016 … tomorrow.