Spring is here, break out the asparagus

Published 1:42 am Saturday, April 8, 2017

Asparagus is a sure sign of spring. We have been eating it here lately, mostly grilled since grilling really brings out the flavor. Just trim the asparagus and get rid of the woody stems and put a little olive oil on the bunch of asparagus and grill for 3-4 minutes and you have a delicious dish. Add some sea salt when finished. When I eat asparagus I know I am eating a green plant, it just tastes like one. It has an almost grassy taste, but some other words to describe it would be rich, sweet, intense, and sharp.

Many people on the other hand do not like asparagus because of its disgusting smell and taste. But the benefits of eating asparagus should make you change your mind. It is a rich source of folate and vitamin K. Folate helps to get rid of the problem of anemia. Vitamin K is found to play a role in regulating the process of blood coagulation. Gastrointestinal tract and colon problems respond well if you consume asparagus regularly. Regular intake of asparagus helps to reduce cholesterol levels. And lastly, eat it while it is in season. It tends to be cheaper.

We have been trying to grow asparagus for years but our production is low. So we supplement with the store-bought this time of year.

Three pointers for making the most of asparagus are:

Size matters: Thin stalks are best blanched or served raw. Thicker stalks are good for roasting or grilling.

Trim wisely: Line up asparagus on a cutting board, and slice where the stalks start to turn woody. And don’t bother peeling them–it’s usually unnecessary.

Storage smarts: Asparagus is technically a lily, so treat spears like fresh flowers. Stand them up in a glass of water, and place in the refrigerator.

I decided to kick up my asparagus a little and add another seasonal ingredient namely, crawfish. This dish is so attractive and have so many fresh ingredients that you cannot go wrong. Great for a salad for a party or for some special guests.

Taken from Dig It from Chef John Folse.

Asparagus and Crawfish Pasta Salad

Serves 8 and prep time 45 minutes


1 pound fresh asparagus

1 pound crawfish tails

1 pound bow tie pasta

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Salt and black pepper to taste

Granulated garlic to taste

1 shallot, peeled and minced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon, grated

2 tbsps. Creole mustard

2 tbsps. minced dill

1 cup frozen tiny green peas

¼ cup sliced olives

16 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

8 ounces crumbled goat cheese

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus tips and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crawfish tails and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Season lightly using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Set aside and keep warm.

In a stockpot over medium-high heat, bring 3-4 inches lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook 10-12 minutes or until al dente. While pasta is cooking, make vinaigrette. In a large glass bowl, add shallot, minced garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and mustard, whisking to blend well. Add dill then slowly drizzle in remaining ¼ cup olive oil, whisking oil to form an emulsion. Season lightly with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. When pasta is done, drain well and then return to pot over low heat. Add vinaigrette and peas, stirring to coat well. Cook 2-3 minutes or until peas are thoroughly heated, stirring often. Add crawfish mixture, olives and tomato halves to pasta, tossing to mix well.

Adjust seasonings to taste using salt, pepper and granulated garlic. To serve, place an equal portion of pasta salad in center of each serving plate and top with an equal amount of goat cheese. Serve hot. And we enjoyed it cold the next day as well. I think it would be a nice salad without the pasta. We have been on a diet recently trying to cut way back on sugar and carbs. And this salad without the pasta would fit the bill.