Over heard at the market: “this market, it’s like Disneyland for adults”
The height of California-grown asparagus season is in full bloom. Did you know that from seed to harvest it takes three years to produce this braid-tipped vegetable? Loaded with vitamins and minerals (you can read all about the benefits of asparagus here) and low in calories it may just be the season’s best vegetable.
A few years ago I asked a farmer how to store asparagus. He suggested I cut about a 1/2 inch from the bottom…….
Tip: keep the rubber band around the bunch when you cut so that you don’t have any runaway spears!
……….. and put into a glass with a bit of water so that the cut end is immersed and store in the refrigerator
There are many ways to use asparagus but I always associate them with eggs, it’s a classic combination. What I like about combining these two ingredients is that you can enjoy them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Take last night’s grilled asparagus and cut into bite-sized pieces. Chop up onion, sauté in a bit of olive oil on medium-low heat, after a few minutes add the asparagus. In a separate bowl, crack a few eggs, add a bit of milk and whisk until combined. Add the eggs to the onion and asparagus, stir frequently and cook until desired doneness. Throw in some grated or crumbled cheese (I like goat cheese but parmesan is lovely), herbs, salt and pepper.
Cook a few eggs (poached, sunny-side up, over easy, whatever you prefer) then lay over cooked asparagus. Add a piece of rustic toast to soak up the goodness.
Lunchtime is the perfect time to enjoy asparagus in a salad. I made this Quinoa, Asparagus and Feta Salad and it was a hit! I added some roasted carrots too!
Not only is there plenty of asparagus, beets and sugar snap peas as in recent weeks the one notable new addition is shelling peas (english peas). Have you ever shelled your own peas? They take time and their yield is a bit of a let down when you compare pod to peas but the taste of a fresh pea is fantastic. If you’ve only ever had canned or frozen you’re in for a treat. My kids do not like processed peas but they do like the fresh ones. Shelling a big bag of peas is a great activity to do with your kids or have them do this while you are cooking dinner. They can easily pop out the little green orbs at the kitchen table.
Fresh peas need little cooking. We like them steamed tossed with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. My favorite way to eat them is in risotto. I recently had the opportunity to cook in the Picco Restaurant kitchen with founding Chef Bruce Hill and then Chef de Cuisine Jared Rogers. I learned that I’ve been making my risotto all wrong. I’ll have a post on their technique soon.
Strawberries taste sweeter this week, a benefit from a heatwave we had for a few days. I bought them from Swanton Berry Farm. This farm was the first certified organic strawberry grower in California in 1987, you can read about them here SF Chronicle . Written a few years ago, it details Jim Cochran’s vision of his company and the importance of paying fare wages and offer benefits to field workers. Not only can you find Swanton at 9 farmers markets around Northern California you can visit and enjoy their u-pick option. With two locations and a short drive within the Bay Area it’s a fun family outing.
Strawberries seem to disappear in my house. Eaten out of the basket or thrown into a smoothie they are typically gone within a few days. This week was all about SOM juice (strawberry, orange, mango) a request from my daughter. I juiced up a few oranges (I bought a 10 lbs bag at the market) poured one cup of juice (alter this amount if you prefer a thin or thicker consistency), a pint of hulled (the stem removed) strawberries and a cup of frozen organic mango chunks into my blender and it was delicious. For a more healthy drink you could add yogurt, almond milk and/or chia seed.
Go find a market, the bounty of the season will certainly please any palate!