Farmers Markets across Illinois are getting ready to launch the 2019 Summer Season! One of the early products is asparagus. Fresh asparagus from the farmers market is often picked just hours before the farmers market and is brimming with flavor and freshness. Part of preparing aspagus is to cut off the woody bottom of the stalk. Most of the asparagus I've bought at farmers markets requires very little trimming. Almost the entire stalk is available for your favorite recipe.
Here are a few recipes from ILFMA Vice President, Dale Hazlewood;
Asparagus, Parmesan, Red Onion Salad
2 pounds tender asparagus, tough bottom stems removed
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
Cut the asparagus, including the tips into very thin shreds and place in a medium bowl. Add the red onion and parmesan and toss to combine. Dress with the vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. This salad should be fairly heavily dressed as the vinegar will sort of "cook" or tenderize the asparagus. Allow to rest for about an hour before serving.
Absurdly Addictive Asparagus
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cup leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1-2 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender-crisp about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.