Week 2: May 14, 2014

In this week’s box:

10 pounds asparagus

2 quarts strawberries

4 bunches Romaine lettuce

2 heads green leaf lettuce

2 heads butter crunch lettuce

spring2014

Photo courtesy The Doctor Yum Project

Looking for creative ways to get your kids to eat all the vegetables you’re bringing home? The local expert on kid-friendly healthy cooking is Nimali Fernando, also known as “Doctor Yum.” Fernando recently used Snead’s asparagus in a cooking class at her new teaching kitchen in Spotsylvania. If you’re interested in cooking classes for your preschool or school-age child, click here for information on future Doctor Yum classes.

Here’s the recipe Fernando and her young students made in their recent class.

Pasta with Asparagus and Spring Onions

Recipe by Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH

INGREDIENTS

one bunch spring onions (or 3 leeks), cut into one inch slices green parts reserved
1 lb asparagus, tough ends snapped off and reserved
2 cups frozen baby peas
4 garlic cloves minced or pressed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons mint leaves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chives minced
½ tsp. lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. pasta (campanelle, penne, or Barilotti, or whole wheat shells)
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup grated parmesan plus extra for serving
salt and pepper

Coarsely chop tough asparagus ends and place in a medium sized pot with green parts of leeks or spring onions, 1 cup peas, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. While this is cooking, combine chives, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl and set aside. Take asparagus spears and cut into ½ inch pieces.

After broth has cooked, strain veggies off, discarding them, and measure broth. Add a bit of water to equal 5 cups of broth. Place back into pot and maintain at a low simmer. In a Dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Cook light parts of onions or leeks for 2 minutes with a pinch of salt, and then cook asparagus for 4 more minutes, or until softened. Add garlic and pepper flakes and cook until soft and fragrant. Add peas and cook one more minute. Remove these veggies and wipe the pot out, setting them aside. Heat 4 tablespoons oil until shimmering and add uncooked pasta, stirring until almost brown. Add wine and cook about 2 minutes until wine is absorbed. Add hot vegetable broth and continue cooking at a boil. Stir frequently until pasta is al dente and most of the broth is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in lemon juice, parmesan, veggies and half of the herb mixtures. Serve with remaining herbs and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Here are a few quick ideas for serving asparagus:

  • Boil spears for 3 minutes, then plunge into ice water for 3 minutes. Drain and keep cooked spears in the refrigerator for an easy alternative to potato chips at lunch. They’re fine plain, but also pair nicely with Tzatziki sauce or your favorite dressing.
  • Make a “Snead’s Asparagus Burger” by topping a grilled hamburger or cheeseburger with grilled asparagus.
  • Lay a few cooked asparagus spears alongside your hot dog or sausage in a bun to add a little nutrition to the indulgence.

The cooks of Sunken Well Tavern will present some creative ways to serve asparagus at the Snead’s Farm Asparagus Festival, May 24 – 26. Entrance is $10 per car each day between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. In addition to Sunken Well and asparagus, there will be Appalachian Kettle Corn, hayrides, Snead’s Asparagus Burgers and everything else you expect to see at Snead’s Farm.

As for all that lettuce, remember that Romaine and butter crunch are particularly good for making lettuce wraps. Just take your favorite stir-fried meat, taco meat, meatball or meatloaf recipe and replace pasta, taco shells or rice by wrapping the meat up in a big lettuce leaf and eating with your hands. This can be another good way to get kids interested in the green stuff.

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