Asparagus Quiche
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An example of an asparagus quiche, which our Dale Carson teaches us to make here.

Native Cooking: When Spring Hits, It’s Time for Asparagus

Dale Carson
4/18/15

It feels so good to write the word “spring”—even thinking about planting is exciting. The air smells different, birds are singing songs while the sun smiles down on the earth. Each day something else pops out of the ground—chive, watercress, dandelion, asparagus—and soon fiddleheads and many more old friends will come up. Every year I vow to get out there and forage more for fresh greens. I also want to learn the identity of and the uses of edible plants. For many years I had mother, grandmother and an uncle as tutors, but no more. It will now be up to me to teach all my children and grandchildren.

A beloved symbol of spring, the origin of asparagus remains a mystery. We planted it many years ago, and it still produces well past its prime. It needs to be put in a deep trench with neutral soil. We pick and use it as soon as possible, often adding store bought to make enough for our large family. I used to steam it and serve it plain with a little butter or a light drizzle of cider vinegar or soy sauce. Sometimes I cook extra just to save some leftovers, which are fantastic in omelets, soups, quiche and fritters. Asparagus is also great cold when cut diagonally in a tossed salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

Asparagus Quiche

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

1 cup cooked asparagus, cut in ½-inch pieces

½ cup grated Swiss cheese

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese or mild cheddar

1 cup minced scallions

4 eggs

1 cup cream or half and half

1 teaspoon minced parsley, dried or fresh

Pinch cayenne, nutmeg, and salt

*use a 10-inch prebaked pie crust

Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl, add cheeses, cream, asparagus, scallion, cayenne, nutmeg and salt. Pour mixture into cooled pre-baked crust and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes to cool and bind before cutting.

Grain Spring Salad with Asparagus

2 cups cooked barley OR brown rice, chilled

½ pound asparagus, slightly steamed and chilled

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ cup walnuts, chopped

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ cup fresh parsley

1 tablespoon fresh chopped chive

1 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

Cut asparagus diagonally into ½-inch pieces. Put chilled grain, rice, barley or both, in a large bowl and toss with halved tomatoes, walnuts, cranberries, parsley, chive and cheese. Drizzle with a light balsamic dressing. This is best served at room temperature.

***

My mother always liked plain food presented in a plain way. She liked it healthy too, no fancy cream sauces for her. This simple recipe for asparagus is quite good, and simple—just how mom would like.

Asparagus Toast

4 or 5 stalks of asparagus, roasted 15 minutes

2 pieces of toast, white or wheat

1 pat of butter

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Put toast down just a minute or so before asparagus is ready. Butter toast immediately then lay the asparagus on toast, add a little salt and pepper, then sprinkle with vinegar. Eat while the toast is still warm if you can.

The toast and the quiche are good served with a mixed greens salad with mild dressing.

Asparagus is also good steamed and wrapped with prosciutto, presented on a tray of appetizers.

Dale Carson, Abenaki, is the author of three books: “New Native American Cooking,” “Native New England Cooking” and “A Dreamcatcher Book.” She has written about and demonstrated Native cooking techniques for more than 30 years. Dale has four grown children and lives with her husband in Madison, Connecticut.

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