Hello lovely market goers! I am so excited to be back for this summer contributing to the Farmer’s Market blog. If anyone took the time to read my posts last year, I hope you learned or tasted something new, and if you are just popping in to check out this new article because you are a massive asparagus fan, I hope I don’t dissapoint.
Last year I wrote an article breaking down the nutrient composition of asparagus, and elaborating on the benefits of the antioxidants and fat soluble benefits these mighty spears behold. Check out that post for some tips on cooking and preserving the vegetable! This time around I wanted to talk a little bit about how asparagus fits into the beautiful ideology of farm to table.
Asparagus grows in such a way I almost want to call it bizarre. Once the plant has been established from seed (which can take about 4 years) it produces spears that can grow as fast as an inch per hour depending on weather conditions. This means on a hot day the same plant can be picked twice! And the plant itself grows in a really unique way. There was a post going around the twitter universe earlier in the spring that said “Asparagus grows ike it is trying to prank someone into thinking this is how asparagus grows”. Asparagus spears literally just protrude from the soil, no leaves, no vines, no pods, no husk, just dirt and asparagus. If you bought a pound of asparagus from the market, and buried it in soil beside unpicked plants, the already harvested plant would be indistinguishable to the untrained eye.
This brings me to farm to table, I can’t think of any other plant that is so easy to pick, clean, and enjoy! Most people think of asparagus cooked into other dishes or steamed as its own side, but I would totally encourage you to try it raw. I have been fortunate enough in my lifetime to visit Sutcliffe Farms and eat a raw spear right in the field, but have grown to appreciate how its unique flavour could be incorporated in dishes. My favourite part of asparagus is the stalk, I would compare its raw flavour to a sugar snap pea pod. It pairs really nicely with a combination of acidic, and rich flavours, think lemon juice and parmesan cheese, or balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Marinating thin slices of spears in a combination of these flavours would create a really simple side salad. Add sliced asparagus to coleslaw and use it to top tacos or burgers, or just incorporate the vegetable into a green salad to add a nice flavour and crunch!
I would only lightly caution you to not get too enthused with the vegetable in its raw state. In last years post I talked about the fibre in asparagus that has many healthy benefits (aids digestion, heart health, even weight loss), but this fibre can be difficult to digest in large loads. Keep this in mind when incorporating raw asparagus in your diet, to avoid any possible stomach discomfort and digestion issues. That being said, I don’t expect anyone will be making raw asparagus their absolute diet staple, so we should be good to go trying out some new recipe ideas!
If you bought a pound at the market on Saturday and have already ran out, I highly suggest making the trip out to Sutcliffe Farms! See the growing phenomenon for yourself, and skip the stove when you get your bounty home.
In Good Food,