Sweet dreams are made from asparagus!
Some time in the middle of August I woke up with a big smile on my face after having a dream about asparagus. I kid you not! It is an excruciating wait for me, from those last little end-of-season spindly, wrinkled sticks, to the big, fat juicy new-season spears. Oh, the months of desperate waiting since I refuse to buy imported produce. On dropping the kids of at school, that morning of my dream, I was straight to the shop to buy some. “No asparagus, yet”, they said. I return home, a disconsolate cook. Then today it finally happened; I got a text from Jeremy, the owner of our local Fresh Market, to let me know he had asparagus – I literally jumped for joy!
It is wonderful to have asparagus back on the menu, more than just for the flavour. Nutritionally speaking, asparagus is a super food. It is high in vitamin K,B1B2, C and E, as well as folate and copper. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and good for heart heath and blood sugar regulation. What could be better for you?
Asparagus is very easy to grow, if you have space for it; we don’t, especially for the amount of it we eat. If you have the space, now is the time to plant. If you decide to plant seeds, it will take up to three years before a crown (a mass of roots) is formed. You can buy crowns, ready to go and if you plant them now, next year you will be harvesting your on asparagus. If you allow your less-than-perfect spears to grow, they will turn into asparagus ferns and be a good source of food for the plant over the winter season. The ferns grow poisonous red berries that are not safe for consumption in any form. In autumn next year cut the ferns back and leave them on top of the bed with some manure and compost, to give some good nutrition over winter, ready for a good spring crop. For more information on planting your garden this season, please check out the planting guide on our site: www.thewildcook..nz
Since the evenings a still a little cool, the recipe this week is a hearty asparagus soup. Enjoy with some crusty bread and a generous grating of parmesan cheese.
Mawera Karetai x
2 c chopped, fresh asparagus
½ c sliced spring onions
1c diced celery
2 cloves of garlic (pressed or grated)
3 c of good chicken or vege stock
1tsp fresh thyme (off the stalk)
½ tsp cumin
A generous grind of black pepper
2 Tblsp butter or oil
Parmesan cheese to serve
1. Melt butter over a medium heat in a pot large enough to hold all ingredients. Add in the asparagus, spring onions, celery and garlic. Cook until starting to soften – around five minutes.
2. Add stock and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and simmer for around 15 minutes.
3. Once the vegetables are very soft, use a hand wand, a blender or a good processor to blend until smooth.
4. Add in thyme, cumin and pepper and cook on a slow heat for a further five minutes.
5. Serve in warmed bowls with a generous grating of parmesan cheese and some crusty bread.