Asparagus is readily available year round these days, but April is considered it’s peak season – which runs from spring to midsummer. Not only will it be in flavorful abundance, but you should see it’s price tag drop considerably, which is another great reason to make heavy use of it this time or year. It also happens to be one of my favorite vegetables! I like it steamed and served with a little butter or Parmesan shavings, or cold with vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce as a first course. Roasting it is especially yummy, but it’s also great in rice and couscous side dishes. You’ll find my favorites in the premium members recipe library.
TIP: Do you know how to tell where you should cut to rid it of it’s tough ends? Holding the bunch of asparagus together in one hand, snap one stalk from the bottom. Where it breaks naturally, is where you should cut across all the others to remove the woody ends. Come back every Friday for more food and cooking tips.
And while we’re at it, let me help YOU afford the luxury of time, save money, and get a delicious dinner on the table in a snap. Purchase premium membership between now and May 19th, and I will give you my mini eBook, Party Accomplished as a BONUS GIFT. It would make a great Mother’s Day gift idea too!
My friend Mikki is visiting from Australia, and has a toothache, so she can’t eat anything solid for a few days. I whipped together this cashew cream of asparagus soup from what I had on hand in my fridge and pantry. Both of us were pleasantly surprised by the out come. Mik says “it’s the best soup ever”, so I hope you like it too.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 leeks, white and green parts sliced
2 bay leaves
1 pound asparagus, tough stems removed and chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cashew cream (see note below)
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1). Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, leeks and bay leaves, and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 6-8 minutes. Add the asparagus, thyme, broth, salt and pepper and bring to boil, lower heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes.
2). Add the cashew cream and spinach, bring back to a slow boil, and simmer another 10 minutes or until thickened. Discard the bay leaves and stems of the thyme. Stir in the parsley.
3). Working in batches, puree the soup, filling the blender no more than half full each time because heat expands, until the soup is a smooth, creamy consistency.
This soup can be served hot in winter, but it is delicious cold in the spring and summer too. Garnish with asparagus tips, Italian parsley, or croutons. Serve on its own or with fresh crusty bread.
This is a method of replacing the dairy that I learned from Chef Tal Ronnen’s cookbook, The Conscious Cook. Cover 2 cups of raw cashews with water, and refrigerate over night. Drain and add fresh water to same level as cashews for thick cashew cream. Puree in a blender or Vitamix (or blender) until smooth, creamy, and the consistency of heavy cream. Refrigerate for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.