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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Asparagus



Confession:  I have never been an asparagus lover.

When I was growing up in Wisconsin, there were three foods that signaled spring: chives (or wild onions, depending on what your yard held), rhubarb and asparagus.

The chives meant Mom's wonderful potato salad would soon grace the table, and that was good. The other two, however, horrified me. I don't think I was a very fussy eater (well, all right, I was the kid who didn't like Jello and never cared for ice cream or anything carbonated, but the rest of the foods I was served I ate readily), but spring menus brought a lot of anguish. Never mind that we had the luxury of country roads filled with wild clumps of asparagus free for the taking and that every homestead yard had swaths of rhubarub plants decades old and still producing enough ruby red stems for dozens of pies and crisps. I still was not convinced that either was really an edible substance.

As I have posted earlier, I  have come to tolerate rhubarb--and find it a very inexpensive "filler" to add to other fruits like strawberries and apples--but I don't eat too many desserts and so can easily avoid eating it myself even as I serve it to others more appreciative of its charms.

Asparagus, however, is something that I recognize as healthy and more than tolerable, even to the point of enjoying it at times. I will admit I still find it at its best raw, nibbling at the freshly picked tender stems as I carry them in from the back yard. And yes, I do have a small planting of asparagus in the garden, nestled in among the ever encroaching raspberries. Perhaps as a sign of my growing appreciation of these fat spears, I am even contemplating planting a few more next year, even though it will take several more seasons to get any substantial harvest.

For you real asparagus lovers out there, just brushing a little olive oil over the spears before grilling (or roasting) lightly is all the "recipe" you need.  For those of us who are more "moderate" asparagus fans however, this could be a new favorite.



Quick Asparagus Saute

1 /2 c chopped onion
1T olive oil
2 c.  Asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/4 t dried thyme (if fresh thyme is available, use 1 to 2 teaspoons, to taste)
Salt to taste
1-2 T water

1.  Saut√© onion in oil until translucent.
2.  Stir in asparagus, sprinkle with thyme, cover, and cook over med high heat, stirring once or twice, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add a little water if asparagus browns too quickly.

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