It’s here, it’s here! Asparagus season is here!
Our farmers market moved outside earlier this month and beautiful asparagus was on display at several stands. I was like a kid in a candy store (or, more accurately, a food nut at the farmers market) and dove right in picking out two big bunches. A few shoppers may have seen me skipping back to my car….
If you haven’t brought asparagus into your kitchen yet you MUST pick some up right away. Asparagus is a super special veggie with a pretty short-lived season so it’s now or never my friend! If you live in California you may have seen these beautiful green spears as early as February and will enjoy them at least until June or July. In the colder east coast our season is from May until July. Local, in season asparagus is tender, crisp and juicy and can even be eaten raw. If you remember it as tough and stringy you likely got asparagus at the grocery store which flew in from a faraway land. Not good! Check out your farmers market and get your local asparagus today!
As I mentioned, asparagus is a super special veggie – let me tell you what I mean. Asparagus is a great source of inulin, a substance that is not digested in the stomach. Instead, it makes it’s way to our large intestines where it supports the growth of good bacteria. By helping out those good guys we support healthier digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and can lower the risk of colon cancer. Plus, asparagus is loaded in vitamin K, important for bone health and blood clotting and vitamin B1 for proper energy production and nerve health.
Listen up ladies! Asparagus is rich in folate. That important nutrient that you need to load up on if you’re pregnant. Get it in!
If the health benefits don’t have you convinced, let me leave you with this. Asparagus is one of the easiest veggies to prepare. With about 5 strokes of your knife, a hot pan and some healthy fat you’ve got a fantastic side dish in 5 minutes. Yeah, I’m a sucker for convenience too!
When I got home from the market I stared at my two bunches of asparagus on the kitchen counter and thought, “this sure is A LOT of asparagus for two people!” So, I decided to create a dish that could be eaten hot or cold so I could easily eat it as a quick lunch. What resulted was a delicious spring dish that could be served as a vegetable side, a room temperature salad or a grab and go lunch. Win, win, win!
Asparagus and Bean Salad with Lemon Ginger Aioli
½ tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot (you can also use a yellow onion)
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 bunch asparagus, about ½ pound, cut into pinky finger length pieces
1 cup chickpeas (rinsed and drained if canned)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon tarragon (or other fresh herbs you have on hand)
1 teaspoon parsley
freshly grated lemon zest (from organic lemon!)
- In a large sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot (if using) and sauté, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes until it begins to soften and become translucent. Lower heat if shallot begins to brown.
- Stir in coriander and sauté about 1 minute more until the spice becomes fragrant.
- Add asparagus pieces and stir until well combined with the shallot and coriander. Cook the asparagus, stirring occasionally, for a total of about 4-5 minutes until it just starts to become bright green. Add the chickpeas and stir until well combined. Cook about 3-4 minutes more until the chickpeas are cooked through and the asparagus is green and still has crunch.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, tarragon and parsley. Season with sea salt to taste. The lemon juice should release any yummy bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Put asparagus and bean salad in a serving bowl and garnish with lemon zest. Enjoy!
Serving suggestions: This salad is perfect warm, room temperature or cold as a leftover for lunch. It can also be combined with a grain like wild rice or quinoa to extend it or make a heartier meal. Also delicious with tuna, topped with a soft boiled egg or added to a homemade broth for soup. When asparagus is out of season substitute in another veggie like broccoli, summer squash or turnips. To make it even snazzier you can finish it off with toasted hazelnuts or almond slivers!
Inspired by Wild Apple Magazine
Lemon Ginger Aioli
½ cup cashews, soaked in water 2-6 hours
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
3-4 tablespoons water
sea salt to taste
- In a blender combine cashews, ginger, lemon juice, miso paste, flaxseed oil and 2 tablespoons of the water. Blend until well combined. Add more of the water and blend again if it needs to be thinned out more. You can adjust the consistency to your liking my adding more or less water.
- Taste and add sea salt to taste. Enjoy!
Serving suggestions: You can easily adjust the seasoning of this dressing by using other ingredients such as toasted sesame oil instead of the flaxseed oil or tamari instead of salt. If you don’t have cashews or forgot to soak them you can use the same amount of tahini in place of the cashews.
Serve the aioli dressing alongside the asparagus bean salad so everyone can add the right amount to their liking. Store the aioli in a glass container for 3-5 days.
Inspired by Heather Crosby, YumUniverse.com