Is there anything like the Farmers’ market when spring gets going? All of a sudden there are all these new delectable treats, like asparagus, ramps, spring onions, peas and artichokes overflowing from the stands. Much as I love the heartier winter veg, spring is, quite literally, an awakening – and a gustatory delight. Nothing has my heart quite like asparagus, however. The crispy crunchy, slightly sweet, slightly earthy spears are so dang good this time of year, and delicious prepared nearly any way.
Is it just me, or have all these “new” greens started showing up in the last 5-10 years? I’m talking about ramps, spring onions, green garlic, garlic scapes, fiddlehead ferns, that type of thing. I’m sure chefs have been all over these ingredients for years, but it’s exciting now seeing them in my local stores and farmers’ markets. I once read if you see ramps buy them and figure out what to use them for later. So rare, so short is the growing season, that you must act fast. This led to a delicious ramp pizza on one impulsive occasion, but I digress. At the farmers’ market this weekend, most of these early greens were on display, but I was most drawn to the green garlic.
Tasked with bringing a vegetable to Easter dinner this year, I knew asparagus would take the starring role, but I wanted to see how seasonal I could get. Enter the green garlic and some pea shoots and I had a gorgeous green inspiration that I then brought to life. Green garlic looks more like onion. The bulbs haven’t developed yet, and they look more like scallions, but they have a soft garlic taste. I can’t wait to find more ways to use them.
This dish is so stinking simple. When produce is this fresh and good, it’s often best to do as little to it as possible. Except add butter. Always butter.
Take a whirl at the farmers market this weekend and figure out your spin on this gorgeous green dish based on what looks best! This recipe can be cut in half and would serve 4 as a side.
The perfect springtime veggie side dish!
- 3 bunches of asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed and cut into 1.5-inch pieces on a bias (this is about 6 cups)
- 6–8 stalks of green garlic cleaned, ends trimmed, and whites thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 large shallot, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 oz pea shoots
- 3 tablespoons butter or ghee
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil
- Blanch the asparagus for 3-3 ½ minutes, checking them frequently. You are looking for crisp tender
- When just done (still a little crisp!), strain in a colander and run under cold water for 1-2 minutes to stop the cooking process. Dry the asparagus using a clean towel
- Finely dice and slice the shallots and garlic
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes
- Add the pea shoots and sauté for 30 seconds. Toss in the asparagus and lightly heat through. Stir in the ½ teaspoon salt and serve (can also be served room temperature and it’s just as tasty)