The birds are singing, the grass is starting to turn green and life is new once again! One of my favorite seasonal vegetables for spring is asparagus. Growing up on the dirt country roads of Idaho, I spent every spring searching the ditch banks for asparagus, which grows wild along the banks. You had to know just where the patches were, and if you got lucky, you could fill a grocery bag in no time. My grandmother and dad loved to cook up the asparagus to go along with our meals. My dad would simple boil the asparagus and drain the water, then cover it with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and a dab of butter. I would gobble it up.
Now that I’m grown, I enjoy sharing the same tradition with my family. We love to pick asparagus on our canal and ditch banks every spring. If you aren’t lucky enough to live where it grows wild, you can certainly find asparagus in abundance at your local market this time of year. Here are a two of my favorite ways to use asparagus.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse asparagus and chop off the bottoms, about 1”. The bottoms of the plant can become tough and hard to chew. Spread asparagus spears on a foil lined baking sheet or pan.
4-5 Tbs. Olive Oil
2-3 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
Toss lightly to coat.
Sprinkle generously with:
fresh cracked black pepper
Roast in oven about 10-12 minutes.
In bottom of quart sized jar, place the following:
1/8 tsp. alum
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dill seed
1 tsp. dill weed
1 large slice jalapeño (use more or less depending on desired heat level)
Stuff jars tight with asparagus spears
Add the following to a large pot:
1 c. canning salt
1 quart apple cider vinegar
3 quarts water
Bring contents to a boil to dissolve. Remove from heat. Pour liquid over asparagus leaving 1/2” head space. Now you can choose if you would like to preserve the pickled asparagus for later. If you can eat it within a month, you can simply place the jars in the fridge. Allow at least 2-3 days for the flavor to develop before consuming. If you would like to preserve the asparagus for later, place a lid and ring on jar and process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath. Remove and allow to cool. Seal jars before storing.
*NOTE: A single recipe of liquid fills about 5-6 quart size jars that are packed tightly.