Springtime Asparagus Salad
Asparagus is one of the first signs that spring has arrived in Ontario; the bright green spears are so bright and cheery! Fresh asparagus is slightly sweet and woodsy with a tender texture. And did you know that it comes from the Lily family just like onions, garlic and tulips? While the plant will continue to grow all summer, only first growth asparagus is eaten because once the flower buds on the top of the plant begin to open, the shoots become very woody and not very fun to eat. Asparagus comes back year after year – some plants can live 30 to 40 years!
Have you ever seen white asparagus? In some areas it’s extremely popular and even called ‘white gold’. To grow white asparagus, the shoots are covered with soil as they grow; without exposure to sunlight there is no photosynthesis (which turns the plant green) so the shoots stay white.
Asparagus can be tricky to grow at home because it thrives in soil with a high salt content which makes growing anything else difficult.. Asparagus is also commonly planted with tomatoes since the tomato plant repels the nasty ‘asparagus beetle’ and asparagus helps prevent root growths that can sometimes occur on tomatoes.
When preparing asparagus, remember to snap off the tough end. Breaking it by hand is the best option since trimming the end with scissors or a knife can sometimes leave behind tough, chewy stalk. It’s also a good idea to peel the ends of the thicker pieces so you don’t get left chewing on tough, stringy bits.
Asparagus can be eaten raw, steamed, blanched, roasted, grilled; just about any way you can dream up! The following recipe is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the harvest!
Until we grow again! - Kathryn
Recipe adapted from Live to the Beat cookbook. Serves: 4-6 Time to prepare: 15 minutes (+ 1 hour chilling)
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 4 tsp soy sauce
- 2 1/2 tbsp honey
- 4 tsp sesame seeds
- • 1 1/2 lbs. asparagus, cut diagonally in 2” pieces.
- In a small bowl, whisk together sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and honey to make dressing. Set aside.
- Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet until golden brown. Immediately stir sesame seeds into dressing.
- Place asparagus in a large pot of boiling water, and cook for no more than 1 ½ minutes if asparagus is thin, or 2 1/2 minutes if asparagus is thick. Immediately drain and refill the pot with cold running water until all the heat has left the asparagus. Drain again and dry thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until the asparagus is cold (about 1 hour).
- Toss with the dressing to serve.