Tag Archives: asparagus

Asparagus Leek Soup

It began with asparagus season this year. I had learned that you can, in fact, freeze asparagus without blanching it, if you’re going to use it in something for which texture doesn’t matter. Like soup! So I spent most of June freezing bags of asparagus and decided, after eating many meals of fresh asparagus, I’d better try out a soup recipe to make sure I like it. I’ll be making plenty of asparagus soup later in the fall and winter with what I’ve got stored in the freezer.

My recipe was inspired by Jim LaPerriere’s Asparagus and Spring Garlic Vichyssoise. Jim is a local chef who participates in the Chef Series each summer at the Holland Farmers Market. I picked up this recipe from him three years ago.

Since I had missed the window for spring garlic, I decided to substitute sweet candy onion. I also used olive oil instead of butter and homemade chicken stock instead of water. (But this would make a nice vegetarian soup if water were used for the base.) Plus, I skipped the potato. And, I opted for raw milk (with fat skimmed off) rather than heavy cream.

Here’s the recipe:

Asparagus Leek Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 small leeks, chopped
1 lb. asparagus, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup lowfat milk

Rinse the asparagus and snap off the bottoms. (Jim’s recipe, as well as several others I found online, suggest saving the tips and blanching them to use as garnish when serving. Me, I’m too lazy to add another step!)

In a large saucepan, saute the onion and leeks in olive oil until tender, about six minutes.

Add the chopped asparagus and saute for one minute.

Pour the chicken stock into the saucepan and bring to a boil.

Cover pan with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer soup for about ten minutes.

Puree in batches. Season with salt and pepper, then add milk.

It’s best to make this soup a day ahead for the flavors to blend. My chicken stock was made from a Spatchcock Chicken so it was full of fresh herb flavor. You may want to consider adding a little parsley or thyme to this soup as it simmers on the stove.

I think this is a delicious summer soup because it’s so light that it doesn’t make you warm and sleepy. Although it’s not an authentic vichyssoise recipe, you could try serving this soup cold. The leeks and asparagus nicely complement each other.

Asparagus Frittata

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Memorial Day is the traditional segue to summer. And in the Great Lakes, it’s the start of weekend gatherings–at home, at the cottage, and at the campsite. What’s a quick and easy way to enjoy breakfast together? A simple frittata with seasonal vegetables. And right now, it’s asparagus season.

Most people in Michigan can’t wait for the first asparagus to show up at farmers markets and roadside stands. I’m one of them. As soon as the Holland Farmers Market opened in May, I was there with my basket, loading up on this spring vegetable that can be prepared so many ways. Putting it in a frittata is one of my favorites. In addition to the asparagus, I buy the rest of the ingredients from our local farmers at the Holland Farmers Market: pastured eggs from Grassfields, red onions from Visser Farms, and goat cheese from Country Winds Creamery. (Another reason why I love this recipe? You can cook it over a campfire, too!)

Asparagus Frittata

Serves 4.

3 T. olive oil

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

8 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Pecorino cheese,  or dollops of goat cheese

Optional: chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or parsley

Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vegetables into a large oven-proof skillet. Saute onions with asparagus on medium heat until nearly tender, about three minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from pan. (Note: You can also leave the veggies in and pour the eggs right over them but I remove them and do the next steps first so the frittata doesn’t stick to the pan.)

Add salt and pepper to eggs, then stir. (If using herbs, add them now.) Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat until bubbly. When oil is very hot, pour egg mixture into pan. As edges cook, lift up with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked egg mixture runs underneath. Continue until eggs are no longer runny. (It will still be slightly soft.)

Preheat broiler on high. Spoon vegetables evenly over egg. Sprinkle cheese or place dollops over entire pan. Put pan in oven under broiler flame and immediately reduce to low. Broil about 3 minutes, checking occasionally. Frittata is done when the edges are brown and the cheese is bubbly (or soft for goat cheese).

Remove from oven and let set about a minute. Cut into eight slices and serve.

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Cooking over a campfire? Just place foil on over the pan to cook the top of the frittata.

Eating Local Over a Fire

Last week I went camping with my friend Sandy in Northern Lower Michigan. One of our favorite things to do on these annual meccas to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is cook over a fire. And I don’t mean hot dogs. Even while camping, we aim to follow the locavore philosophy as much as possible.

Here’s an easy meal we made with vegetables in season: Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Asparagus, Garlic Scapes and Potatoes. The produce came from our local farmers market or the garden, and the meat came from my mixed quarter of beef in the freezer. We even found the prosciutto at the Cedar City Market, known for natural foods.

Lots of people who camp know that one of the best ways to cook potatoes is to wrap them up in foil and let them roast over coals. That’s exactly what Sandy and I did. You just have to get them going first because they need at least half an hour to be tender (for 1-2-inch pieces).

Meanwhile, we made the Chimichurri sauce, which also needs to sit for about 30 minutes, and marinated the grassfed t-bone steak from Lubbers Farm in olive oil, salt and pepper. I brought fresh parsley and oregano from my garden for the Chimichurri!

Then we roasted asparagus and garlic scapes–fresh from the Holland Farmers Market–over the coals. This is easiest to do with a vegetable grate. (The National Park Service provides fire pits with standard grill grates at their campgrounds. Our tax dollars at work, and worth every penny!)

After wrapping the asparagus and garlic in prosciutto, we put it back on the grill to get crispy.

Then we grilled the steak about three minutes per side (it was only 3/4 of a pound and–yes–Sandy and I shared one steak) and let it rest a couple minutes under foil after cooking. As with other grassfed meat grilling recipes, it’s important not to overcook the meat because it is so lean.

This is how the potatoes turned out after roasting.

The whole meal from preparation to serving took about an hour. One of our favorite things to do during the process? Drink local wine. Just like at home.

When Garlic Scapes Are in Season

What is a garlic scape?

A few years ago I may not have been able to answer that question. But since I’ve become a locavore (whenever possible….it’s tough to be a pure locavore living in the North Country!), I’ve paid more attention to what’s available at my local farmers markets.

Well, it’s scape season! Garlic scapes are the shoots of the garlic bulb, edible and delicious in salads, pesto, on pizza, or simply sautéed.

I decided to roast mine with some asparagus, also in season here in Michigan right now, that I picked up along with the scapes from Eaters Guild–one of my favorite organic producers–at the Holland Farmers Market today, along with some fingerling potatoes from Visser Farms.

First I roasted the potatoes in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Then I added the scapes (chopped) to the oil and placed the asparagus on top.

I roasted the vegetable mixture another ten minutes.

Then served the vegetables alongside a Grilled Ribeye Steak that I picked up from Crane Dance Farm at the Holland Farmers Market this morning. I love it when they make the trek to Holland on Saturdays!

Simply Fresh: Recipes from the Holland Farmers Market Chef Series

Today’s Chef Series included a demonstration by Lauri Sisson of Pereddies Restaurant called “Simply Fresh.” She shared four great recipes with us, based on produce that’s readily available at the Holland Farmers Market.

As Lauri mentioned, Visser Farms–who supplied the potatoes for the first two recipes–is one of the first vendors to arrive at the market in the spring and they stay through the biting wind and snow of December. I, for one, really appreciate their stamina and loyalty because they’ve provided me with veggies that last throughout the winter!

Lauri demonstrated two great ways to make potatoes: Crispy Yellow Visser Farms Potatoes and Visser Farms Rosemary Potatoes.

In the first recipe, you steam potatoes until fork tender and then smash them with your hands on a baking sheet.

After drizzling with olive  oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper, you simply bake them in the oven at 425 degrees until crispy.

The second recipe was as simple as the first: All you do is put oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on one end of a jelly roll pan.

Then, place a rosemary sprig on the white half of a potato.

Finally, drag the potatoes–cut side down–through the oil mixture.

Because it’s strawberry season, Lauri demonstrated a recipe for Strawberry Tiramisu, which looked delicious, whether made in a 9 x 13 casserole dish or a fancy trifle bowl.

Finally, she showed us how to wrap asparagus–still in season here–in prosciutto for an appetizer called Uova con Prosciutto.

Whether you’re a novice cook, or a pro who’s looking for new ideas and ways to use fresh, local produce, the Chef Series–held every Saturday at the Holland Farmers Market–always has talented foodies presenting delicious recipes that you can easily make yourself.

See my past blog posts from the last three weeks:

Holland Farmers Market Chef Series, Part 3

The Fine Art of Greens

What to Do with Rhubarb?

Thanks to Visser Farms for sponsoring the event! (And thanks to the Holland Farmers Market coordinators for moving the demo back into the shade!)