The Arrival of Asparagus
My last farmers' market post featured a recipe for fiddlehead ferns, one of the first foraged foods of spring here in southern Vermont. As their brief season starts to wind down, their asparagus-like flavor reminds me that asparagus itself will soon be making its way to market. As locals danced around the maypole at day one of the Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market, asparagus was yet to appear at the vendor booths. I would happen upon some shortly at a roadside stand in the town of Bernardston, Massachusetts, just 15 miles south of the Vermont border where spring has a slight jump on us. After depositing my $4 in the honesty box, I drove home to celebrate the arrival of this antioxidant-rich, detoxifying, and nutrient-rich vegetable by making May Day Stew, a recipe from my latest work, The Sage and the Cook: Two Generations of Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes, an e-book in collaboration with whole foods pioneer Rebecca Wood. The recipe is Rebecca’s.
May Day Stew uses tender veggies at their flavor peak, and as spring vegetables vary from region to region, feel free to tailor the recipe to what’s on offer at market—no need to purchase out-of-season supermarket produce simply for the sake of following a recipe. Snow peas and scallions have yet to have their day in southern Vermont, so new to the scene asparagus was the star of today’s stew, with year-round-available potatoes as well as tender turnips their earthy counterparts. This dish makes for a light and satisfying first course or a side to a protein entrée.
Tip: When you cook with asparagus, save the woody ends of the stalks to make a light and flavorful broth. Toss them into a saucepan using about a quart of water for each bunch of stalks, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and use as the base of a vegetarian soup stock, or season with salt, sit back, and savor as a simple springtime tonic.
Leda Scheintaub’s latest work is The Sage and the Cook: Two Generations of Gluten and Dairy Free Cooking, an e-book series in collaboration with whole foods pioneer Rebecca Wood. The first book in the series is Soups and Stews, available from Amazon for $2.99. She is also the coauthor (with Denise Mari) of the forthcoming Organic Avenue; coauthor (with Carol Alt) of Easy, Sexy Raw; the recipe developer for The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto; and author of Chipotle: Smoky Hot Recipes for All Occasions. She is also a graduate of the chef’s training program at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. She has been a freelance writer, editor, and recipe tester for the past ten years. She lives with her husband in southern Vermont, where you’ll often find her at the Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market.