This post originally ran on 3 May 2010. We just enjoyed our first asparagus this weekend so it seems appropriate to re-post this with a few minor edits.
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...
Ok, I may have overstated that a little, but harvesting the first bit of asparagus each year is exciting for us. After a winter of dark, gray days, plucking those first green stalks from the earth feels good. Eating them feels even better!
I know, I know, you don't have an asparagus patch down the street, at your parent's house, like I do. So what's a person to do? Mosey on down to your local farmer's market and look for some! Believe it or not, those of you who live in the city may have a better chance of finding a great farmer's market nearby then those of us in the country because farmers like to go where they'll get the most business.
Be sure to take your kids with you and encourage them to interact with the farmers. Most farmers love to talk to their customers (especially kids) about what they do. Many will offer tips for growing your own veggies or suggest recipes using the ones they grow. A few years ago, I learned my favorite kale recipe from our local farmer. She had recipes printed up to encourage us to buy Russian Kale- a variety of kale new to me at the time.
By now, you know I encourage families to grow at least a few veggies and herbs, but I also know most families cannot plant more than a small plot or a few pots. Supporting your local farmer is the next best thing to growing your own. By buying local, seasonal vegetables, you help support your local economy and get the freshest, most nutrient-rich produce around. You'll also help prevent global warming by limiting fossil fuels used to ship produce across the country and beyond. In addition, even those farmers who have not been certified as "organic" tend to use less (if any) pesticides and herbicides on their crops. By asking a few questions you can learn how your food was grown.
To find farmer's market near you, a quick google search with the words "farmer's markets" and your city (or state) will likely reveal what you need. Massachusetts readers, go to Massachusetts Farmers Markets to learn more. (You can also invest in Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. Massachusetts readers can learn more about CSAs here. In other states, try searching on "community supported agriculture" plus your state name).
Here's my favorite asparagus recipe, taken from Global Feast Cookbook: Recipes from Around the World Edited by Annice Estes
Asparagus Chung Tung
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 1/2 quarts water
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil (look in Asian/ International food aisle)
- Cut asparagus diagonally into 1/4 inch pieces.
- Bring water to a boil in large sauce pan. Add asparagus. Cook for 1 1/2 minutes (NO LONGER). Drain and immerse in ice cold water to cool quickly and stop the cooking. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, mix the salt, sugar, and oil in a small bowl.
- Place asparagus in a bowl. Pour salt, sugar, and oil mixture over asparagus. Toss to coat.
What's your favorite asparagus recipe?