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.

Fiddlelicious

Fiddleheads, the unfurled baby fronds of the ostrich fern, are named as such because they look like the curled head of a violin. They have a very short season in the spring so if you see them, grab them while you can. They taste a little like asparagus, but look so unique that they make a nice change on the plate. They’re also low in calories and are chock full of vitamins.

fiddleheads

fiddleheads

I first tried fiddleheads on a trip to Saint John, New Brunswick around this time 10 years ago. I had never heard or seen of them before and was quite surprised to have them served at dinner. They were delicious and different and I was intrigued. They were boiled, then tossed with vinegar.

Now that I’ve cooked them on my own, I tend to prefer them with a bit of lemon juice instead.

*Warning: fiddleheads must be cooked thoroughly before eating as raw or undercooked fiddleheads will taste bitter and may cause stomach problems.*

Preparing fiddleheads
Choose green fiddleheads that are tightly curled. Keep them refrigerated until you are ready to cook them.

Carefully brush or cut off the papery brown scales on the outside and trim the tail end to remove any brown ends (which are caused by oxidation).

Wash the fiddleheads in a bowl of clean water several times to remove any dirt or lingering scales until the water is clear.

Cooking fiddleheads
Boil the fiddleheads in a pot of salted water for 10-15 minutes, or steam them for 20 minutes. Drain, and serve with melted butter/margarine and lemon juice and zest, or vinegar.

You can also sauté fiddleheads by blanching them in boiling salted water for one or two minutes prior to sautéing.

To freeze fiddleheads for future use, blanch them in boiling salted water for two minutes, then drain and shock them in an ice water bath and freeze. To cook them again, thaw them and boil for 10 minutes.

You can basically replace fiddleheads for most recipes that use asparagus. Cook them simply, or experiment with this unique green.