My little Kathleen loves to help around the house and yard. She was intently cutting the asparagus out of our garden the other night. Please overlook the weeds in these pictures... we were out getting the garden ready to be tilled and being sure to get our asparagus. :-) Notice the little white flowers? That's our strawberries popping up all over as well. Cannot wait till the strawberries come out :-)
Asparagus season lasts about 6 weeks. After that will be time to stop picking it and let it recover. Cut the stalks when they are about 6-8 inches tall and the spears are tightly closed, they will have a better flavor that way.
I must say I wasn't a big fan of asparagus before, but now getting it so fresh from the garden, what a difference in the taste! We all love it lightly steamed, but I've been trying other recipes as well. Jerry likes eating it straight out of the garden, while still standing in the garden, lol. ;-)
It's like a little treasure hunt finding the asparagus between the strawberry plants and the weeds, lol. It's well camouflaged. I believe that is why Kathleen enjoys finding it so much.
Kathleen does an awesome job finding them amongst the weeds and other plants, lol. We bring them in, in our colander and makes them easy to clean and prep them for storing in the fridge.
I love mason jars, they have so many wonderful uses. They are the perfect size to store them in and be sure to add water to the bottom to keep them fresh until you cook them.
Since we have had an overabundance of asparagus, I have been getting them ready to freeze.
First cut off any tough parts on the bottom of the stems.
Boil water and add about a pound or so at a time and blanch them for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness.
Then transfer to very cold water to stop the cooking process. Again keep them in the cold water 3-5 minutes.
I love how rich green they are from the garden. Don't see them like this on grocery store shelves. :-)
I then flash freeze them by laying them out on cookie sheets and placing in the freezer at least 2 hours or a little longer. When frozen I then transfer them to air tight bags to place in the freezer. You can leave them as full stalks or chop them up for soups, etc. Asparagus properly frozen can last up to a year in the freezer. However when you take it out, do not defrost but cook it right away. This will be such a nice treat for us in the winter time!
There are some great recipes I wanted to share also. The other night I made the Asparagus soup, it was so delicious! Had a creamy, sweet taste to it.
Creamy Asparagus Soup
1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus trimmed and chopped
14 1/2 ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half (this will depend on your desired taste)
Set aside asparagus tips for garnish.
Combine ingredients except the 1/2 and 1/2 in a stockpot or dutch oven and bring to a boil. Simmer 5-7 minutes until asparagus is tender.
Ladle small batches into the blender. Add 1/2 and 1/2 to taste and puree.
Return to stockpot/dutch oven and heat without boiling.
Steam asparagus tips till tender and garnish the soup.
Serves 5 (note these are small servings so if you'd like a bigger batch, double ingredients. :-)
Lemony Asparagus with Chive Blossoms
1 large bunch asparagus
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 chive blossoms
After trimming spears, place in a steamer over simmering water for 8 minutes or so until just tender, then drain. Arrange on platter or plates.
Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a small glass and whisk, pour over asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Pluck individual florets from the chive flower heads and scatter over top. Serve at room temperature.
(Recipe from Mother Earth News Magazine)
Chicken Asparagus Roll ups
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 lemon juiced and zested
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 slices provolone cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking dish. In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise, Dijon, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, tarragon, salt and pepper until well combined; set aside.
Cook asparagus in microwave on high till bright green and just tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Set the spears aside.
Place the chicken breast between two sheets of heavy plastic (freezer bag will work, large) on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound chicken breast with smooth side of a meat mallet to a 1/4 inch thickness.
Place 1 slice of provolone cheese on each chicken breast, and top the cheese with 4 spears of asparagus. Roll chicken breast over asparagus and cheese and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. With a pastry brush apply a coating of mayonnaise mixture to each chicken breast and sprinkle with panko crumbs, pressing crumbs into chicken to make coating.
Bake in preheated oven until crumbs are browned and the chicken juices run clear, about 25 minutes.
No Cream Pasta Primavera
1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta
1 yellow squash chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1 carrot cut into matchsticks
1/2 red bell pepper cut into matchsticks
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
1 cup fresh green beans trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
5 spears asparagus trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil divided
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 large yellow onion thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Boil a large pot of salted water and boil pasta until tender, yet firm, then drain
Toss zucchini, carrot, red pepper, tomatoes, green beans, and asparagus together in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. Arrange vegetables on a lined cookie sheet.
Roast vegetables for about 15 minutes until tender.
Heat remaining olive oil and butter in large skillet. Cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix cooked pasta, lemon zest, basil, parsley and balsamic vinegar into the onion mixture. Gently toss and cook till heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to large bowl. Toss with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with Romano cheese.
"A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust" Gertrude Jekyll