Spring Vegtables

Spring? Summer? The weather certainly has me confused and personally I love Spring. The rainbow of tulips in bloom, the baby pink of the dogwood trees, as well as the lemon yellow of the forsythia. Farmer’s markets opening up their roadside stands with their early harvest of radishes, lettuces, spinach and my favorites, asparagus and sweet peas. I look back at memories of a wooden case filled with slender green spears of Jersey asparagus. My mother-in-law would stand tall at the sink and gently find the sweet spot where the spear would “snap” separating the tender top from the woody bottoms. She would place the shoots in water “swishing” them around so they would release any sand trapped in the bud. Then she would place them on a cotton kitchen towel to dry before we put them in freezer bags to be laid in our freezer for future use. No blanching, they were perfect used right from the freezer.  Of course some of those very fresh spears reached our table that evening. Her favorite recipe was to line the spears like soldiers in a baking pan drizzled with EVOO and blanketed with a topping of breadcrumb, fresh chopped garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt, pepper and slightly moistened with more EVOO. The pan was popped in a 350 oven and baked until the breadcrumb was golden brown, a wonderful accompaniment to roasted chicken. But that’s not all; the next day she would clean those woody bottoms with a pairing knife. They would be sauté in EVOO with onion, celery and a finely dice potato some salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes they would be covered with water infused with chicken bouillon and simmered until tender. This would make its way to a blender and become cream of aspargus soup. “Waste not want not”

For me however I love to saute fresh aspargus in EVOO with onion and mushrooms until just slightly caramelized. I stir in a tablespoon of corn starch that will coat the vegetables then add chicken stock, about a 1/2 cup to start and simmer until thick. In the meantime a pot of water is boiling vigorously with Farfalle, little bow tie pasta. When the pasta is al dente add to the pan of vegetables. Turn off the heat under the pan and add crumbled blue cheese. Toss gently to melt the cheese and coat the pasta, taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed. What a delicious way to enjoy Jersey Fresh!

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Cherry Hill, New Jersey

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