Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ways with spinach and asparagus

Our mainstay crops at the moment are spinach, asparagus, broad beans and broccoli. I am fond of veggies, I wasn't when I was younger, but I have grown in my love for them as being the highlight of the meal. Part of this love I think is in the fact that we nurture them in the garden and they are freshly harvested and on our plate within a short time. I thought I would share some of the favourite ways that we prepare asparagus and spinach most evenings.

We pick our asparagus in the evening by slicing it off just above ground level. You can see last years growth as brown sticks in this photo and then then new spears pushing through. If we do not have enough for one meal, Superman and I will steam them lightly and gobble them down after dunking them in a bit of Hollandaise Sauce.

If there is enough for a side dish (only 4 of us eat asparagus) then I have a few ways of preparing them. To prevent the spears from feathering out if we do not have enough I cut then and keep them in a glass of spring water until we have collected enough. This is normally a 3 day process and the jar can stand on the counter. They tend to dry out in the fridge.

1) Put a cup of water in a skillet and then add the asparagus. Let the water cook off, drizzle with olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper and the juice of half a lemon.

2) Dry griddle the spears for about 5 minutes to get them crunchily cooked. Remove from the heat and place on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then shavings of Parmesan.

The key with asparagus is not to overcook it as then you loose the sweetness of the vegetable. I have recipes for asparagus soup, tarts and more but they tend to overpower the gentle flavour of this amazing plant. In case you don't is a great article on the health benefits of asparagus.

Moving on then...spinach! We have one child who is spinach resistant :) but will endure the torture because its a vegetable that I can disguise in quiche, tarts and lasagne. But I like it very simply as well and this is the most common way that we eat it.

At least 3 nights a week spinach graces our table in one guise or another. We cut it as close to cooking as possible always taking into account that it shrinks in cooking. So there were times that the kids would go out to harvest and I would need to send them back for more as the basket that looked so full would only do for 2 or 3 of us.

1) The easiest way to prepare once the leaves are washed and chopped is simply in boiling water. Tip the vegetable into a colander to drain and then immediately into a serving bowl. Add a knob of butter, freshly grated nutmeg and salt and pepper.

2) The other way is to wash and chop the leaves. Then into a deep pan fry up some garlic, onion and thyme. Add the spinach in handfuls and sweat in between by placing a lid on the pan. When all is added and has cooked down pour in 250ml cream and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grate over a layer of Parmesan cheese and replace the lid until the cheese melts.

3) The last way is a little more complicated and I cannot claim it as my own but I have to share it as it is simple a superb meal along with a salad. Jamie Oliver has it on his site here.

I hope these inspire you to not only cook these veggies but also find a patch to grow your own spinach and asparagus can be grown in a big barrel too!


Lois Evensen said...

Yum! I agree, there is nothing as tasty as fresh veggies.

wfmborg said...

I just wish I could claim those 4 veggies as staples... Think. Hopefully one day! I've just started the veggie patch this year. Hoping to grow asparagus next year.

Crystal said...

Spinach is quite a staple in our house too, we have so many plants at varying sizes.
We went to the garden show a few weeks ago and there was a stall selling nice size asparagus plants (5 plants for R60). I kick myself everyday for not buying some. Now I might have to start from seed like you did.

Jane said...

We had some spinach this evening - I steamed it in a pot with a couple of tablespoons of water with the lid on and when soft added a mix of milk and cornflour - stir until thick and then add grated cheese.

prairieharmony said...

Thank you for sharing such delicious ways to prepare garden veggies! Yum :)