Fresh asparagus. Anyone raised on the east coast or midwest will remember the joy of the first succulent, tender local asparagus after a long, cold winter. Californians are lucky as our temperate climate allows farmers to grow aspargus year round. But asparagus is still associated with the promise and freshness of spring.
If you’re looking for a way to bring the fresh taste of spring to your table, a chopped vegetable salad adds both taste and nutrition to your lunch or supper. You can find the thin asparagus needed for the spring salad at a number of Culver City Farmers Market vendors, including Suncoast Farms. Another quick and easy asparagus recipe is grilled asparagus. Zuckerman’s Farm, another regular market merchant, sells thick, jumbo asparagus which is perfect for grilling.
From The Farmer’s Table
2 lbs. thick asparagus
optional addition at the table: basalmic vinegar
Rinse aspargus. Break off any tough ends. Parboil in boiling salted water for about a minute. Rinse immediately in cold water to stop the asparagus from overcooking. Brush asparagus lightly with olive oil; season to taste with salt. Grill over slow fire or in grill pan over medium-low heat. Make sure to turn the asparagus to cook evenly. Test for doneness by piercing the stalks with the sharp point of a knife. Serve hot or cold with basalmic vinegar on the side.
For a sophisticated, Italian-inspired variation, use medium or thin asparagus stalks and generously sprinkle grated Parmesan-Romano cheese over the asparagus before grilling.
Spring Chopped Salad
1 bunch asparagus (thin or medium is best for this recipe)
4 radishes, diced
1/2 c. shelled fresh baby English peas,
1 T. fresh mint leaves, torn into small pieces
six lettuce leaves
Trim the ends of the asparagus. Place it in a large pot of boiling water, and cook 3-5 minutes, until it reaches the desired tenderness. Do not overcook. Blanche immediately in running cold water. Chop the asparagus into one inch segments. If the peas are very small and tender you can include them raw. Otherwise, cook in boiling water for 2-3 minutes and blanche. Mix asparagus, radishes, peas and mint leaves. Add vinegrette dressing to taste. Place a lettuce leaf on each plate, and serve the salad on top of the leaf. Garnish with additional mint if desired.
The Culver City Farmers Market is held each Tuesday from 2 to 7 p.m. on Main Street between Venice and Culver Boulevards.
Katie Malich still remembers the pride with which her Aunt Frances showed off the first asparagus of the spring from her backyard garden.