Asparagus!

It’s early May in the Mid-Atlantic.  We’ve had an unusual winter that has caused a slow start in the growing season here in the Garden State.  While my weekly trip to the Collingswood Farmers’ Market had less variety than I hoped for I still filled the back of my car and had many delightful meals from the early vegetables.

Seasonal is the key concept here.  While all of the farmers would love to sell us everything we dream of… if we want NJ Fresh produce (and not southern US) we’re going to have to be patient. Corn, field grown tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant will appear, but much later in the summer.

According to information provided by seasonalfoodguide.org in EARLY MAY (with a normal Spring warmup) we can expect to find: arugula, ASPARAGUS, chard, chives, garlic scapes, green onions, mushrooms, parsnips, radishes, rhubarb, and spinach.  In LATE MAY we can add lettuces, peas, and strawberries to the list.

Last week we were welcomed to the market with loads of asparagus!

Little story here.  My father was one of eight children born very close together.  He was born in 1925.  Long time ago.  Periodically my father and chosen sibling(s) were sent to stay with their grandmother.  She was a strong but tiny woman.  She grew much of her own food and cooked it all herself.  As my father (and siblings) was fond of telling us….when a vegetable was in season that was what you ate.  So if corn was in season you had corn fritters, corn on the cob, corn bread….you get the picture.

So…in honor of my great grandmother.  Asparagus!

Asparagus, Mushroom, and Chicken Stir Fry

Ingredients:
8 ounces of skinless, boneless chicken breast
1/4 tsp. salt.
1 tsp. cornstarch

4 baby bella mushrooms
bunch of asparagus
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 tsps. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsps. corn starch
2 tsps. water

Directions:
1.  Cut the chicken into 2 x 1/4 inch slices.  In a bowl, mix the salt and 1 teaspoon cornstarch.  Stir in the chicken.  Set aside.  This can be done in the morning and refrigerated until ready for dinner.  Be sure to pull the chicken out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before using in the stir fry.IMG_8026

2.  Cut off and discard the stems from the mushrooms.  Cut into 1/2 inch strips.

3.  Break of cut off the tough end of the asparagus spears.  (The asparagus I used was extremely thin.  If you do not have thin asparagus you can slice the asparagus diagonally into 2-inch pieces).

4.  In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons water and two teaspoons cornstarch.

5.  Line up all your ingredients so they are readily available for quick use.  Stir fries are quick!

6. Heat a wok or large frying pan (non-stick in fine) over high heat.  Add the vegetable oil and chicken and cook and stir until the chicken turns white, about 3 minutes.  Remove chicken to another bowl.

7.  Add the garlic (you will remove the cloves of garlic before serving), mushrooms, and asparagus and stir fry for about 2 minutes (until the asparagus is the crispness you like).IMG_8049

8. Put the chicken back into the wok or large frying pan.  Add the chicken broth. Cover and cook for 1 minute.

9. Stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Cook and stir until thickened.

10.  Add the soy sauce and stir fry for about 30 seconds.

11.  Remove the garlic cloves.  Put the chicken and vegetables  in a bowl or platter, serve, and eat.IMG_8057

 

 

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients:
bunch of asparagus
olive oil
salt
grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Cut (or break off) the tough ends of the asparagus.
2. Soak asparagus in water for about 30 minutes, then rinse, and drain in a colander.
3.  Line up your asparagus spears on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet.


4.  Spring with olive oil.
5.  Put in the tray in the oven and roast the asparagus about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Watch their progress and decide how crispy you want your spears.
6.  Take tray out of the oven.  Put spears on a plate.  Sprinkle with salt and grated parmesan cheese. Serve.IMG_8065

 

 

Braised Asparagus

Ingredients:
bunch of asparagus
butter
water
salt

Directions:
1. Cut (or break off) the tough ends of the asparagus.
2. Soak asparagus in water for about 30 minutes, then rinse, and drain in a colander.
3.  Melt a small pat of butter in a skillet.  Put cleaned asparagus in the melted butter in the pan and allow to cook for about 2 minutes.


4.  Drop another 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan with the asparagus.  Add 1/2 cup water to the pan.  Put on a lid.

Let cook with a lid for about 10 to 15 minutes.  You will see steam coming out of the pan.  When you can clearly smell asparagus (don’t let it burn),,,remove the lid.  Stick a fork in one of the asparagus spears.  It should go in easily.  Lower or turn off the heat under the pan and let some of the liquid boil off.  Serve.

IMG_8092

Where in the market?
asparagus purchased from Les Viereck Farm, Springdale Farm, A.T. Buzby Farm
chicken breast purchased from Hillacres Pride
mushrooms purchased from Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms

 

And any leftover asparagus can be added to a quiche or omelet.  My great grandmother would be proud!

Farm fresh produce is wonderful if we have the patience to wait for it to come in its own time.  Some years the strawberries are early and sweet….and some years the broccoli is late and small.  Waiting is all.

 

” Earth has to be ground up before the food can grow.”

-Sigrid Undset, from KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER

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