Asparagus and mushrooms recipe

A trip to the City Market last Saturday netted me a few goodies including two bunches of fresh Edgar Farms asparagus (where I bumped into Sharon from Only Here for the Food when we both raced there to grab some before they sold out), and a 1 lb. basket of mixed wild and domestic mushrooms from Mo-Na Food. I also picked up a small container of morels to experiment with, but more on that on another post. I did think about some fiddleheads as well, but I’ve bought them a couple of weeks in a row and I needed a bit of a break from them.

My farmers’ market bounty inspired to cook up a simple vegetarian dinner.

I snapped the bottom ends of the asparagus and gave them a quick rinse, then popped them into some boiling water for a very quick parboil. I then popped them into cold water in order to shock them and stop the cooking process.

While the asparagus cooled, I cleaned and roughly chopped up my mixed mushrooms, diced a couple of garlic cloves, and chopped up another six portobello mushrooms that I had bought at Costco and added that also to the mix. I stir fried the whole lot with about three tablespoons of margarine and reduced the heat to a medium high temperature.

stir-fried mushrooms

stir-fried mushrooms

Once they cooked through, I splashed in about a tablespoon and a half of shao hsing Chinese cooking wine and added salt and pepper to taste (very little salt, as the cooking wine has salt in it already).

I then started plating. First, some drained asparagus. Then, spoonfuls of mushrooms. And to top it all off, scoops of the sauce over the whole thing.

asparagus and mushrooms

asparagus and mushrooms

Simple, fresh, nutritious and delicious. Great with a side of brown rice, or maybe some roasted potatoes. Myself, I toasted some whole grain bread and dipped it into the sauce until it soaked everything up.

Alternatives to the Chinese cooking wine include soy sauce, cooking sherry, or oyster sauce.

A warning – the amount of mushrooms that I cooked were enough to make at least 6-8 servings. I had plenty of leftovers.

My pee smells funny a.k.a. asparagus is in season)

This past weekend I was a little busy but the weekend before that I managed to make it down to the downtown farmer’s market to pick up a few vegetables and other assorted goodies. I was very excited to see large bunches of fresh asparagus at the Edgar Farms booth, and bought some for that evening’s dinner.

Edgar Farms asparagus

Edgar Farms asparagus

According to the tag on my bunch of asparagus:

“Edgar Farms is a sixth generation family farm established 1907, located in the beautiful parkland just west of Innisfail in central Alberta. Our cool climate produces extremely tender and sweet asparagus. To further enhance the sweetness of our individually hand picked asparagus it is chilled immediately in ice cold water to remove field heat quickly.”

In my experience, their asparagus tastes 10 times better than anything you can buy in a regular grocery store. They sell their food at both the Calgary and Edmonton farmer’s markets so if you have the opportunity to try their products, I highly recommend that you do so. Their farm isn’t quite within a 100 mile radius of Edmonton, but it’s pretty darned close. (It does fit the Calgary 100 mile diet, however.)

The majority of the time I will quickly blanch asparagus, cooking their tips for slightly less time than the bottom halves, and eating them straight up like that instead of bothering to add butter. Since I bought three bunches this time I decided to do something a little different with one bunch. Roasted asparagus tastes best straight from the oven, as when it gets cold it will become slightly soggy.

roasted asparagus

roasted asparagus

Roasted asparagus

1 bunch asparagus
olive oil
some sort of coarse salt like kosher or sea salt
pepper
balsamic vinegar

To prepare your asparagus, the easiest way is to grip the two ends of the asparagus and let the end naturally snap off. The asparagus will snap at the point where the vegetable is harder and more fibrous, leaving you the more tender part to eat. Wide pieces of asparagus will snap higher on the stem; narrow, more younger asparagus will snap closer to the bottom.

Rinse and lay the stalks on a baking tray. Add a liberal amount of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, and toss to coat. Make sure each asparagus piece has room on the baking tray.

Place in an over at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Serve the asparagus with a splash of balsamic vinegar. This will give the stalks a slightly sweeter taste.