By Marika Varro, The Convenient Chef
If someone were to ask you what spring means to you, you might say, “the first sight of hummingbirds” or, “seeing certain flowers like daffodils”, or maybe “the sound of tree frogs.”
Well, spring to me is when asparagus shows up in my supermarket, usually locally grown and well-priced. This nutrient dense-food has the taste of“spring” to me.
Debbie Shapter and Richard Gilbert, owners of the Blacktail Farm on Texada Island, are looking forward to this year’s asparagus crop which they planted four years ago. The plants thrive on their chickens’ naturalfertilizer.
“The asparagus is a member of the lily family. The spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in soft, sandy, soils. The spears are not harvested for three years to allow the crown to develop a strong root system,” says Debbie.
Temperature determines the time between harvests. Earlier in the season, pickings may be every four or five days whereas as the weather gets warmer, asparagus may have to be picked every 24 hours. The season can last up to eight weeks and a properly cared for planting will produce for about 15 years.
In Europe white asparagus is more common than the green asparagus we find in Canada but is occasionally available in our supermarkets. It is white because it has been deprived of the sun that would turn it green. That lack of sunshine has a definite effect on taste: white asparagus has a sweet, nutty flavour and a less “grassy” taste.
To prepare this springtime treat, trim the ends, by snapping the butts at their natural breaking points and wash in warm water. Stand asparagus upright in about an inch of water in a glass placed into your fridge. Fresh asparagus keeps for two or three days.
It’s one of the most nutritionally balanced vegetables there are: high in folic acid and a good source of potassium, vitamins A, B6, C, fiber and thiamin. It has no fat, no cholesterol, is low in sodium and tastes great!
Cream of Asparagus Soup
- 3 lbs asparagus spears
- 3 cups chicken stock or water
- 2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped (white and light green part) )
- 2 cups hot milk
- 2 tsp dill
- 1 medium onion finally chopped
- ½ tsp tarragon
- 2 tbsp butter Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
– Wash and trim asparagus. Cut off the tips and set aside. Coarsely slice
– Melt butter in a medium size skillet. Add leeks, onion, potatoes and
asparagus stalk. Sauté for about 15-20 minutes over medium heat, stirring
– Add stock or water, stir and heat to boil, and then turn down to simmer.
Cook until potatoes are soft.
– Puree the soup with the milk and season with the herbs and salt and
– Blanch and chill asparagus tips (see above) cut into small pieces and add to
soup just before serving as a garnish.