The daffodils have burst into bloom everywhere, the grass is greening up, purple myrtle blooms are popping open, buds are swelling—it’s spring! At least in my little corner of the world (my inlaws, looking at snow today, would probably disagree!). According to one of my favorite local farmers, it is just a couple of weeks before we are eyeball to eyeball with huge quantities of one of spring’s great delights, asparagus.
When asparagus comes to town, we seem to eat it nonstop for the entire length of its brief season. Those leggy green friends need nothing more than a simple steaming and a squeeze of lemon in my book, but they are also delicious lightly roasted or grilled and splashed with a dash of Pacificia Culinaria’s Avocado Blood Orange Oil, mixed into a frittatta or quiche, paired with other spring vegetables in a creamy pasta primavera, pureed in a cream of asaparagus soup, smothered with cheese and ham in a grilled panini…I can’t wait.
One of my favorite easy dishes with asparagus is the humble Asparagus Pasta. This must be the easiest dinner I ever make, but it is also one of the tastiest. This dish can be adapted to feature nearly any fresh vegetable, but tender, fresh asparagus really benefits from this treatment.
And if you’ve always bought your asparagus in the grocery store and eaten it long after it travels many miles from Mexico or California? Unless you are from Mexico or California, do yourself, your palate (and the Earth) a favor this year, and search for a source of delicious, fresh, locally grown asparagus. This is one vegetable that really shows you what eating foods in season is all about. If you’re lucky, you’ll even find a pick-your-own source like my friend Sara has in her upstate New York town. Yum!
What asparagus looks like before it is bunched up and sold at the market.
1 pound bow tie or rotini pasta
2 bunches asparagus
2 Tablespoons fruity olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
dash red pepper flakes
2/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper
While pasta is cooking, cut asparagus in two-inch diagonal slices and saute in olive oil until it turns bright green, just a few minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to asparagus.
Add broth and simmer a few minutes. Add drained, cooked pasta to asparagus mixture, and toss until it is warm and well blended. Add Parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper and serve.
P.S. Flaking a little grilled salmon into this dish is a delicious addition, too. Also some fresh peas!
Readers—I’m on the hunt for the perfect Asparagus Lemon Pasta dish. Got one for me to try? And tell me what you do to prepare asparagus, I’m always looking for new ideas!
Also, if you are interested in eating more locally-grown foods, this is the season for sign-ups for Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSA). Look for a CSA or a farmer’s market near you on localharvest.org.
With the skyrocketing costs of fuel and trucking being added to your grocery bill, there is more incentive than ever to eat foods grown in your own area.
Our CSA provides us with so many fresh, delicious, organic vegetables, herbs and even flowers each week that we need to split it with another family, plus we spend less than we would for the same amount of well-traveled non-organic produce at the grocery store. Try one this year!