Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring treasures

One of the many things I love about spring is the arrival of several fruits and vegetables that, while they may be available now that there's commercial shipping, are at their very best in the spring. Two of my favorites are strawberries and asparagus. I've been enjoying the abundance of these in the past few weeks so i thought I'd share a few recipes - one asparagus, one strawberry and one strawberry and asparagus!

Last week, I spotted a line at the local farmer's market and, not knowing what to expect, I got into it. It could have turned out to be some meaty adventure, but it was purple asparagus! The farmer was selling it out of the plastic shopping bags he used to collect it and I have no idea how much I paid per pound for it. I just looked so beautiful, I couldn't resist piling more and more into my bag. Tonight I made a soup and topped it with freshly-made croutons and shaved Parmesan. It would be wonderful with a crisp Pinot Gris or chardonnay.

Separate the tough asparagus stems from the tender ones by snapping it in half. It will naturally divide the stalk into a tough lower part and tender upper part. Use only the tender upper parts to finish this soup. The tough parts are used to make the stock.

Cream of asparagus soup with seasoned croutons

1 lb fresh asparagus, cleaned thoroughly and separated by snapping.
1 medium onion chopped
1 T. EV olive oil
1 tsp. whole thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. saffron threads
2 c. water
2 T. white flour
1 c. half and half
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil and add the thyme leaves, salt, pepper, and saffron threads. When the onion is translucent, add the water and asparagus bottoms. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the stems and discard. Put the remaining stock in a blender or use a stick blender to make a smooth broth. Pour most of it into a measuring cup, but leave enough broth to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2 inch deep. Add the upper parts of the asparagus cut into 1" pieces. Stem over medium heat until tender-crisp.

Once the asparagus tips are tender, stir in the flour and stir until it is incorporated. Then add the remaining broth and the half and half. Stir until the soup thickens somewhat. Leave on very low heat until ready to serve.

Seasoned croutons

4 slice whole wheat bread
2 T. EVOO or 1 T. olive oil and 1 T. butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the bread into large cubes. Melt the oil or oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook gently for 1 minute. Then add the bread cubes, paprika, and cayenne. Stir the bread cubes gently until they absorb all the oil and the garlic sticks to them. Salt and pepper as desired. Move the cubes around once in a while while they toast over medium to low heat. The point is to dry them without burning the bread or the garlic. When sufficiently dry, place them on some paper towels until they are cool.


Ladle the soup into the bowls and pile the croutons in the middle of the bowl. Sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Yum!/

Raw Chocolate- Strawberry Pie

2 c. raw almonds, walnuts, pistachios (any combination)
1/2 c. Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp. ground cinnamon or ginger

Chocolate layer
1/2 c. cocoa
1/4 c. raw agave syrup or honey
2 T. water

Strawberry layer
1 qt. fresh strawberries, washed and sliced


In the food processor, combine the nuts, dates and spice until finely chopped and combined. The mixture will be moist and hold together when pressed. Press it into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie plate. Freeze 1 hour.

Mix the chocolate layer ingredients by hand until smooth. You may need to add more water to make it spreadable. Spread this on the pie crust once it comes out of the freezer.

Layer the strawberries on top of the chocolate and freeze for 1/2 hour or until set, but not frozen. try not to eat it all at one time!

Springtime salad

1 head romaine or red leaf lettuce, washed, dried and broken into bite-sized pieces
1/2 quart strawberries, washed, dried, and sliced
1/2 lb asparagus, washed, steamed until tender, cooled in cold water, then dried
1 c. walnuts, broken


2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. EV olive oil

Mix the first three dressing ingredients in a large bowl until combined. Add salt and pepper. Then add the olive oil while continuing to stir dressing until the oil is incorporated.

Add and mix the lettuce with the dressing. Add the asparagus, strawberries and walnuts. Gently toss once more. Adjust seasoning and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Smoked paprika is amazing, and I have to stop adding it to everything. Do you use an alternative to the half and half? I bet coconut milk creamer would work. Liked the wine rec with these too!