Friday, May 15, 2015

Asparagus!


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. :-)
ENJOY!



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
black pepper
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.
ENJOY!

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.

ENJOY!

"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


                                                                        Blessings,
                                                                               Jill







12 comments:

Vee said...

Asparagus is not my favorite thing, but I am going to share your post with Judy at Cranberry Morning. She'll be in complete harmony with this. You have a lot of it and it must be a blessing to have what you enjoy in February so nice and fresh. I used to have an asparagus bed that I allowed to go to seed so I could use the feathery fronds for flower arrangements. Sadly, I killed it! How fun to have your own little asparagus harvester!

Cranberry Morning said...

Vee sent me over here. Glad she did! Love your sweet asparagus hunter/picker. The recipes sound fabulous, especially the creamy asparagus soup. My mom always cooked asparagus until she was sure it was dead, so I grew up hating it. Yuk. Then I discovered that I could steam it until it was bright green and still tender/crunchy and have loved it ever since. I don't freeze ours because it's just not the same, but I sure enjoy it fresh! Enjoyed your post.

~ Noelle said...

We love asparagus here. Yummm.
Wish we had it fresh in our yard, none would go to waste :)

Nonnie said...

Lovely asparagus and cute little harvester!! Funny the things we take for granted. I never thought about how asparagus grows. Just pick it up at the grocers!! The soup and the pasta sound wonderful!

Barb @ Bella Vista said...

Hi Jill,

Thanks for popping over and leaving such a sweet comment.

Your pictures are lovely and your helper is just precious.

I love asparagus!

Barb

Barb said...

Hi Jill!

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on my post - I love meeting new friends!

You also have a very nice blog, very comfy, makes me feel like home.

I love asparagus! I used to live in a home where it grew wild along our ditch bank. I would have to go out very early in the morning to pick it before the foragers got to it first. I always had all I needed, and left plenty for them too. The recipes sound amazing, I can't wait to try the pasta primavera, sounds delightful!

Your children are just adorable, what fun having them work in the garden with you!

Hugs,
Barb

aimee said...

Yum! Love, love, love asparagus! How neat to grow your own:)
Blessings, Aimee

Carrie B. said...

The color on that asparagus is AAHH-mazing!! Those recipes sound so delicious and I really want to try the chicken roll-ups. Yum!!

My favorite way to prepare asparagus is roasted in the oven (or foil packet on the grill) with lemon juice & zest and sea salt.

Thanks for sharing and happy weekend Jill! xoxo

rivulet said...

I'm trying my own hand at gardening a little at a time buy you may have just convinced me that I need to have a go at asparagus next.

Great post! and your daughter looks like such a wonderful helper.

I pinned this to reference later. I like the way you went about freezing it. That sounds like it would be very efficient.

Hena Tayeb said...

wow that is amazing.. i love asparagus.. hope to grow some myself in a year or two, when i can actually focus on it.

Gina said...

Oh my! I love asparagus. No one else does in my family so that leaves more for me! I've never planted it in my garden before but I think I'd like to try! Thank you for sharing all the how-to-steps!

Kerri said...

We love asparagus in our house....we all fight over who will get the last helping! I can't imagine how yummy it is right from your garden...although I've never tried it raw like Jerry! Your pictures didn't come up...so I will check back later so I can see them!