Asparagus!

or sparrow grass or sparr grass. But an asparagus by any other name is still an asparagus.

asparagus-2009-04-006

I learned my lesson from last year: pick every single spear, the huge fat ones (some are larger than my thumb) as well as the skinny ones during asparagus picking season (from 2 to 8 weeks depending on the vigor and the age of your plants). Any asparagus left to grow will turn into fern: not only will the crown stop sending more desirable shoots, the ferns provide habitat for the cursed asparagus beetles. The beetle damages the tips (both nibbling them and forcing them to grow crooked), lay their unsightly eggs on the tips and eat the foliage which adversely affect the following year’s crop. So pick often (as much as twice a day in the hot weather) and pick all!

So we have a bit of asparagus at the moment, but nobody complains since they go exceedingly well with just about any food (or with no other food): munched on the way out of the garden au naturel (the asparagus! not me…); raw and sliced thinly in green salads; sautéed with morels and finished with a little cream; briefly roasted with a little sesame; or as a side dish snapped in large pieces, stir fried with spring onions and served along side a nice little pork chop.

asparagus-pork-chop-2009-04-001

What do you do with asparagus?



12 thoughts on “Asparagus!”

  • I usually just make it as a side dish, roasted or parboiled with lemon, cheese, etc. But tonight I’m doing a chicken-asparagus-spring onion dish with gremolata (April bon appetit recipe). And your plate is making me hungry for dinner right now. Beautiful!

  • Well, I eat them and even don’t have time to blog about it as the season is short !
    Just steamed and with a little bit of butter, as a side dish…delicious !

  • My asparagus is in it’s third year and still a bit disappointing. Sylvie, do you fertilize yours or add compost or manure in the late fall or early winter? Dinner looks awfully good!

  • I do find I need to mix it up a bit with this crop because, you know, you have to eat it *every day* when it’s available. Last night I basically caramelized it in a hot cast-iron skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil and some green onions. I chopped them up into 1/2″ pieces first (both the greens and the asparagus) so it was hard knowing what was what but it was tasty!

  • Melissa – I love spring onions with asparagus too (that’s what’s in the picture w/ asparagus). Gremolata sounds a tasty idea for asparagus. Hope you blog about that recipe on alosha’s kitchen

    Vanille – well, I can tell you that when the first asparagus tips shows up on April 3 but just remains there doing nothing (except sticking its invisible tongue at you nanana) until it’s warm enough to shoot up 10 days later… anticipation really builds up.

    tom – I dug that bed 12 to 18 inches down – and believe me that was a job in my rocky clay soil! Added tons (or so it seems) of compost and composted manure. Planted the crown 3 inches deep then piled more compost and shredded leaves on top, so there was 6 to 9 inched on top of the crown. In the winter the bed get a covering of ashes from the wood stove, and shovelfuls of sand. Next winter it’ll get manure.

    El – yeah, I know, you HAVE to eat it every day. Sigh….Laugh….

  • uh oh…i only have a tiny clump of asparagus left from my original 10′ row (amazing what getting out-competed by catnip and weeds left by a too-busy gardener can do…) and i was leaving the pencil thin shoots uncut to make growth to strengthen the roots…guess i’d better get out there and cut them and eat them??? My favorite preparation is just to steam them…period. I do have a great stirfry recipe but i reserve that for market-bought asparagus. Two of my cats are absolutely crazy about asparagus, and prefer the stalks to the tips, which works out great when we share.

  • Paula, if there are that skinny, indeed leave the shoots alone. Mulch and fertlize your bed (compost and composted manure of possible), keep it weeded, in hope to strenghten the crowns.

    what I meant is: to fully pick a bed during the harvest season. If the plants are not strong enough, don’t harvest at all. I’ll be stopping sometime in late May, when 3/4 of the shoots are pencil size. Right now a good proportion are bigger than my thumb! Last year, I decided I was only picking the giant tips. But since I left fern to develop on the unpicked tips, the crown stopped sending shoots and I had some incredible ferns!!!!

  • l’asperge stocke ses réserves dans ses racines pendant l’été et l’automne, quand elle est en végétation. Il faut lui donner du fumier ou des engrais quand elle fait sa verdure, à la fin du printemps et en été
    Plus tard à la fin de l’hiver elle produiront bien
    (jolie recette)

  • oui, JP, “c’est bon!”, ou comme dirait mon pere “c’est pas mauvais” (ce qui veut vraiment dire: “C’est vraiment bon!”)

  • Sylvie – Just saw your comment on page and remembered this post from yesterday… the chicken dish was amazingly good. I promise to blog about it soon, you may really enjoy it. It’s one of those I wish I could force everyone to make before the season is over.

  • Hi there!
    My favorite thing to do with asparagus is to cook it with olive oil, chicken, onions, garlic and basil and toss it together with whole wheat rotini and swiss cheese. The basil, asparagus and swiss really compliment each other in a sweet way.
    I have a crazy question for you though. My asparagus is in its third year – and so we’ve not cut much of it (as per the normal instructions) but I was wondering whether anyone had ever tried to cook the fern (ie after it’s gone to seed). I know you can eat ferns, you can eat asparagus – so why couldn’t you eat the fern after it goes to seed? heheh – I’m crazy but I bet it’s probably edible. I’ll have to try it in scrambled eggs with dill tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know what happens!
    Thanks
    Annette

  • Annette: well… I don’t know, but there is edible and edible. For example bolted lettuce is “edible” (as in it won’t poison you) but rather unpalatable. I have had overgrown asparagus spears and they are woody and fibrous – definitively not pleasant. Anyway, if you are not picking spears to let your plants get strong, you are not doing your plants a favor by picking up the fern – assuming it’s edible. By picking the fern, you are preventing the plant from photosyntethising, therefore preventing the roots from getting stronger – and sending more shoots the following year.

    But why not? try it (and do let us know how the “crazy” idea works)e

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.