(Insanity as in asparagus.)
As I was working in the garden this weekend — planting almost the remainder of the seeds — it occurred to me that the date was June 5th. Or 6th. I’m still not sure of the date because Charlie was using my watch this weekend to referee a soccer game and the strap broke. Note that in the picture above, I do have my watch on, which is confusing to say the least. I can neither remember the order of events, nor explain them to you. Just know that I speak the truth.)
(Yes, I yelled at him. And, yes, he denied any wrong-doing. So, yessss, I yelled some more and told him to bear some responsibility for the the things that just seem to “happen” to him all the time. “Be accountable,” I yelled!)
Anyway, that’s the only way I know what the date is, to look on my watch. Even that, as a source, is failing me mightily since the numbers are about two millimeters high and I can barely even see them anymore.
But I digress.
As I was working in the garden, it occurred to me that it was early June. The fact that I was in the middle of my insane asparagus bounty and still planting seeds shocked me. As I contemplated what I would say in this post, I realized that I would be writing for a small audience –only Minnesotans — for who else in this world considers June to be Spring?
Who cares, really? If you have fresh, tender asparagus, I’ve got a tip for you: keep it raw and put it in a salad. I won’t go so far as to tell you to eat spear after spear raw, like my dad does — because I think it tastes like grass — but in an effort to plow through a ridiculously large pile of the stuff after being gone for the weekend, I decided to try it in some salads. I made refrigerator pickles (good, but what isn’t good when soaking in sugar and vinegar?) and an asparagus quinoa salad (amazing!)
I highly recommend you try it. I’ve made the salad twice now, once with quinoa and once with bulgar wheat. Both were good and had their benefits. The quinoa was more fun to eat since the tiny grains burst and pop in your mouth like the little fish eggs on sushi (that sounds so gross, but it’s true). The bulgar had more eye-appeal since it had — at least the way I cooked it — less moisture and more contrast.
The salad would also be good with barley or orzo pasta.
I tried various implements to slice the asparagus razor thin and defaulted to a knife. The mandolin was a pain (and dangerous) because the asparagus tends to have a lengthwise fiber to it which interferes with the mandolin. Most of my stalks had this split toward the bottom:
…which is maybe a factor of them being so tall when I picked them. But made the slices less pretty. A vegetable peeler is great if you want long strips, but I found long strips to be too cumbersome to eat. So I just used a knife and cut them on the diagonal. Then I used the mandolin on a super thin setting and sliced up two radishes.
I also added garbanzos, toasted pine nuts, shaved pecorino (as always, my cheap and beloved substitute for ridiculously priced parmesan).
The quinoa was super salty (I like it like that) and a little “wet” (I don’t like it like that.)
Anyway, I dressed it with lemon juice and olive oil, salt and pepper. Who knew something that stupidly simple could taste so good? (Seriously. I did not know that.)
Asparagus Salad with Grains
- 3/4 cup quinoa (or bulger or other grain) cooked according to package directions, but be sure to season with salt!
- approx 8 thinly sliced raw asparagus spears
- big handful pine nuts, toasted
- 1 can of garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
- 2 radishes, very thinly sliced
- shaved pecorino or parmesan to taste
- 1/4 – 1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed (amount to taste. start with 1/4 and add more if necessary)
- 1/8 – 1/4 c olive oil (same as above. add more as necessary. I added 1/8 c with the wetter quinoa and 1/4 c with the drier bulgar wheat
Toss together all ingredients. It lasts for days in the refrigerator!
Here is a picture of what it looks like with bulgar wheat:
This is a spoiler alert, but I also added preserved lemon to my second batch. That’s fodder for another post, as you’ll see why later in the week, but it was good.
And as a point of reference in my ongoing battle of the asparagus bulge, here is a before and after of the pile:
Before making salads: