Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Girl gets Greedy

Baby chicks, fresh peas and asparagus.  Even here that means Spring! We've been picking and eating asparagus for a few weeks now. I grow Purple Passion, a variety that is low in fibre and high in sugar.


 Fresh from the garden it is an entirely new vegetable, one that demands new ways of preparation. It is too delicate to withstand the traditional blister and char treatment. Even oven roasting is too much. Mostly we eat it raw~ tossed in salads, sliced into a slaw or barely warmed in a mixed veg stir fry. It is so delicious that i become greedy, waiting to harvest the spears until the very last minute. My greediness leaves me with little margin for error. A miscalculation of a single day means the tightly furled tips will fling themselves open and the tender spears will begin to gird themselves in a woody sheath.

Last week was windy and cold and windy. Did i say windy? It put me in a bad mood which made me forget for two days that i was greedy for more asparagus. When i finally remembered and braved the hurricane gusty conditions,  i found the tall soldier spears of asparagus were gone. In their place the row bristled with thick purple stalks of  snaking asparagus on the verge of ferndom. What to do, what to do? I did the only sensible thing. I cut them down and put them in a vase on the counter. It was kind of scary looking but the stalks were too big to fit in the fridge. And then i set about wondering what a girl should do with two pounds of woody asparagus.

This is what i came up with.

Saute one sliced leek and maybe half a clove of garlic in butter or olive oil.  When tender add chopped aparagus stalks and enough water to cover. You could use broth but i think it masks the taste of the vegetables. Simmer until asparagus is tender. Run contents of soup pan through a food mill. You could use an immersion blender but i don't like woody bits in my soup, even if they are very small. Reheat soup and stir in two or more big spoonfuls of whole milk yogurt. Adjust salt and pepper. Garnish with tender, well behaved stalks of asparagus, thinly sliced.  Dust with grated Asiago cheese and serve.

Sorry, no picture. The soup was gone before i could find the camera. Good eating on a cold, windy day ; )

Asparagus is a perennial. After the initial bed preparations and planting are complete it can give you several harvests a year for very little effort. Steve Solomon writes about starting an asparagus bed from seed in his "Gardening When It Counts" that makes real sense for Hawaii gardeners due to the shorter time to harvest (and the high cost of shipping!).  Asparagus is also fairly salt tolerant so it can be grown in coastal gardens. If you have been thinking about growing some asparagus for yourself check out the new 'Asparagus in Hawaii' link in the sidebar.

8 comments:

Mr. H. said...

Lucky you, there is nothing better than fresh asparagus and I can't wait until ours pop up. I have also been "trying" to grow a purple variety but so far have only been able to harvest a few spears, hopefully it is finally established enough to produce more this year. Your asparagus dish sounds delicious.:)

A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui said...

Your asparagus is beautiful! How fun to have baby chicks. I hope you had a good bean and pea harvest too!

Pomaika`i said...

Aloha, Julie! I am so happy to learn that asparagus does well in Hawaii! The CTAHR pdf is terrific, but I think you need to fix the link; it looks like it has "http://http://..."-duplicated at the start. By deleting the redubdant tag, it works just fine. I also found out why my sweet corn did so poorly, by reading the next pdf on the search page that came up. Gotta get tropical varieties of sweet corn, The few stubby ears I grew 2 years ago were really embarrassing. Mahalo for your encouraging experience with such a fine veggie.coricusl

Julie said...

This year is my best harvest so far Mr. H! I guess asparagus soup is one of those little indulgences that gardeners treat themselves to ; )

Jane some harvests were great and others not so much. More on that later, i hope. We haven't had chickens here for a few years now. Unless you count the pesky wild ones ; ) Couldn't resist picking a few up last time we were at Dels.

Thanks Barry, i am always messing up my links. I haven't grown corn here yet but Monsanto seems to have good enough luck with it. Seems like our biggest challenge might be keeping the stalks vertical ; )

Julie said...

BTW Jane, i said a little prayer today. Just in case. Wanted to let you know ; )

Bangchik said...

asparagus.., a veggie that has not found its way into our little garden...

Titania said...

Hi July, I have never grown asparagus. I have to find out if it is possible to grow them in my location, perhaps through winter when it is cooler. Your very tender asparagus look delicious. I love asparagus soup and you saved the day with yours. It is a fantastic vegetable. sometime I buy a small bunch, but naturally they are never as good as homegrown like with all other vegatables.

Mary said...

I loved your asparagus post. I think I will plant asparagus as my experimental crop this year. I was wondering how it did in a warmer climate.