It’s asparagus season! Here are a few recipes to get you started. At the Open House on Saturday, I made the Asparagus and Ramp soup – it’s delicious and the most vibrant green.
Pick ups start next Wednesday! It’s been so cool recently that the crops have really slowed down, but we’ve got asparagus and rhubarb and some really gorgeous green onions as well as some other things. Just remember that the season starts slow, but makes up for it in the summer and fall!
Asparagus and Ramp Soup with Yogurt
This is a quick but elegant soup, featuring asparagus and ramps (wild leeks – if you pick only the leaves, they’ll come back year after year – pulling the whole plant devastates the population). You can also use green garlic, leeks, or green onions.
2 pounds asparagus, root end trimmed
1 pound ramps (only need the leaves), green garlic or green onions
2 Tbsp butter
2 C veg or chicken broth
1 C plain (full fat is best) yogurt
¼ C olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped mint
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Prepare an ice bath (or at least a cold water bath – I don’t always bother with the ice) to cool the asparagus as it comes out of the pot.
Cut the tips (about an inch or two) off the tips of the asparagus and blanch them in the salted water – about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and put in the ice bath til cool, then transfer them to a plate and set aside as a garnish for the soup. Add the asparagus stalks to the blanching water and cook them until just tender – about 2 minutes. Chill in the ice bath and then transfer to your blender.
Separate the ramps – set aside a quarter of them as the garnish. Heat a large skillet and chop the remaining three quarters ramps roughly and sauté in 1 Tablespoon butter until tender and lightly browned. Throw them into the blender jar with the asparagus. Add the broth and yogurt, and blend on high speed until totally smooth. With blender running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pot and heat gently (not too long or it will turn army green). When ready to serve, stir in lemon juice. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in skillet and sauté the asparagus and the garnish ramps together.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with asparagus tips and ramps, as well as chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil.
Asparagus and White Bean Salad
You may remember this salad from a few years ago – I first started making it in Portland. Make your own beans for the very best salad possible, but use canned if you must. Any type of slightly salty, firm-ish cheese will do – cotija (kind of like Mexican feta – salty and crumbly) is lovely but you can also use feta, pecorino, or a fresh water buffalo cheese from Monforte Dairy.
1 bunch (1 – 1 ½ pound) asparagus, cut in pieces about twice the size of the beans
2 C cooked white beans (cannellini or navy beans), drained of liquid
1/3 C cubed or crumbled cotija cheese
¼ tsp lemon zest
Juice of at least half a lemon, more if you like
1 small shallot, minced
¼ C parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp mint, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. It seems like a lot, but the asparagus is only in the water for a short time, so the seasoning has to be aggressive to have an effect. Also prepare an ice bath – a bowl of cold water with a cup or two of ice in it to cool the hot asparagus and halt the cooking process.
Blanch the asparagus for a short amount of time – like 30 seconds. You want it to still taste fresh and not at all mushy, so when it’s turned bright green after 30 seconds, it might be done! Pull it out with a slotted spoon into the ice bath. When cool, remove to a plate lined with a towel to dry.
Place everything in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Add a little more lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Lacto-Fermented Asparagus Pickles
Just like all fermented pickles, there’s not much to these aside from the process, time and my favorite – air locks! An air lock jar allows the gases created during the fermentation process to escape, while ensuring that no air gets in to the jar to feed the bacteria (and mold) that you don’t want in there. Harvest Pantry – a stall at the Western Fair – sells gallon jars with an air lock for $16 or so and they’re perfect.
Asaparagus – as much as you think you’ll eat! Leave whole or chop
Garlic – green garlic, or a clove or two of regular garlic
Lemon (optional – a slice or two)
Dill (a big sprig – also optional – but if you love dill pickles, why not dilly asparagus?)
5 Tbsp salt
8 C water
Place the asparagus in the jar and pack as tightly as possible. Throw the garlic and/ or lemon in there too.
Dissolve the salt (use Himalayan or a pure sea salt, no iodine) in the water (use natural spring water – well water is good, not treated city water) and pour over the asparagus until submerged. Don’t worry too much about the asparagus poking out of the brine, if you’re using an airlock, it should be fine.
Sit it in a dark corner or cupboard for 3-5 days. The longer it sits, the more ‘vinegar-y’ they will taste. Then refrigerate and enjoy for the next month or two.
See you soon!