We used to tell the kids that space aliens were popping up from under ground when the asparagus started breaking through. Their fingers were clawing through the surface. Wicked I know. They got a thrill out of it anyway.
This has been a wonderful year for the asparagus patch. I think it's a combination of weather and just the right fertilizer. I applied blood meal and lots of my own compost around January so it had time to soak in and do it's magic and the spears have been enormous. I was trying for quantity. Giant spears are not necessarily what I was going for but the purple variety I have produces huge spears anyway and these are even bigger than usual. Before you ask I have no idea what the name of this variety is. I planted this bed about 10 years ago and I think I got the purple roots from catalog but I can't be sure. I can tell you that even though they're so huge they're tender and sweet all the way down the stalk so there's hardly any waste tender and delicious - amazing. The green variety is Martha Washington I think and it's doing really well too.
The harvest season is short but prolific so I'm always looking for ways to use the crop. I don't think asparagus freezes well at least not for me. It always defrosts mushy no matter how hard I try to prevent it and I never seem to have time to pickle it so we just eat it every night until it's gone. Any suggestions for what I can do with it?
Here's a recipe I adapted on the fly that turned out well and would be a good vegetarian main dish or a nice side dish.
Orzo with Asparagus & Parmesan
serves 2 generously as a main dish; 4 as a side dish
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic finely chopped
3/4 cup orzo
1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
asparagus (as much as you'd like) trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup Parmesan
Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute garlic and orzo briefly until lightly toasted over medium heat. Add white wine and evaporate by about half. Meanwhile warm whichever broth you're using (I use the microwave for this step) and add it to the pan all at once. Stir so all the orzo is coated. Cover and simmer on low stirring occasionally about 20 minutes. If the liquid is getting low before the pasta is done add a little more broth or water. In the last 5 minutes add the asparagus and cheese, stir to combine, cover and remove from heat. The residual heat will melt the cheese and cook your asparagus. The asparagus will still be crisp and there should be just a little silky sauce or more if you like. If you like your asparagus cooked more just leave it on the heat longer. No worries.
Adapted from Food52.com
Until next time,