With spring being here, the first thing that comes to this foodies’ mind is fresh asparagus.
When I lived in Minnesota, a fun Saturday afternoon past time was to go asparagus hunting. Some of you may know what this is, some of you won’t. Asparagus would grow wild in the ditches along with the grass. Some of us took this so seriously that we would actually have maps of our patches and would not share the secret with anyone. The start of asparagus season is mid-May though mid-to-late-June. As the ditch grass got taller, it was not as easy to see the asparagus. At this time, the asparagus would go to seed, which was a good thing, and then we were guaranteed asparagus the next spring.
I have picked pounds and pounds of fresh asparagus over the years. The wild asparagus has thinner spears than the store bought. Over time, producers have bred the asparagus to produce thicker spears. It all tastes good to me. I would pickle it with jalapeños and onions, roast it in the oven, steam it and melt a little butter over top, wrap it in bacon and grill it or just sauté it in a little olive oil and sprinkle some fresh Parmesan cheese over the top.
Asparagus is actually a member of the lily family and is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It contains a lot of Vitamin A & C, contains zero fat and cholesterol, and is the leading supplier of folic acid among vegetables. There was also an Arabian love manual written in the 16th Century that asparagus was considered to be an aphrodisiac. Who knows?
There is a trick to growing asparagus. I tried a couple of times to get a patch growing in my yard; but never had any luck. It has to be planted in the ground upside down 3 years before it can be harvested for the full season. The seeds must come before the plant. But once you get it going, asparagus can grow 6 to 7 inches in one day if the sun is shining!
This time of the year, we love to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather and have finger food to eat while doing so! Here are two of my most favorite asparagus appetizer recipes.
BACON WRAPPED ASPARAGUS
This is a no fail recipe! Take about 5-6 spears of asparagus, snap away the tough ends. Give it a wash with water and wrap one slice of thin cut bacon around the bundle. Grill, watching closely, until the bacon is as crispy as you would like it.
PROSCIUTTO ASPARAGUS SPIRALS
These are beautiful!
1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
6 tbsp. garlic & herb spreadable cheese, softened
8 slices prosciutto or thinly sliced deli ham
30 medium asparagus spears, trimmed
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Unfold the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface. Spread 3 tablespoons cheese on each pastry sheet. Top each with 4 slices prosciutto. Cut each into 15 strips crosswise, making 30 in all.
Tightly wrap 1 pastry strip around each asparagus spear, prosciutto-side in. Place the pastries seam-side down onto 2 baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.