Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s officially asparagus season here, and the harvests have picked up now that the weather has warmed a bit. We cut over 4 pounds of it last week, about a half pound per day. That’s about the usual rate we get from our 10 year old patch, but since it was late to come on this year I don’t know how long we will keep cutting it. Normally we stop around the first of June, but that would make for a very short season of about 5 weeks instead of our usual 8 weeks. We will see how it goes! Like many homegrown veggies the spears come in all sizes, unlike the graded and sized bundles you buy in the stores.
I steamed some nice big spears for Asparagus Mimosa, which we ate one day for lunch. It’s a simple treatment, just steamed asparagus, hard cooked egg, a few capers and a drizzle of good olive oil. I find that fresh picked asparagus doesn’t need a lot of embellishments, and this dish really lets the flavor of the asparagus take center stage.
I also used a bit of the asparagus for a stir fry dish I made one night for dinner. For that dish I sauteed shiitake mushrooms and chicken along with a bit of garlic until the chicken was done and browned a bit. I removed all that from the pan, then stir fried the asparagus until just crisp tender. Then I added the meat and mushrooms back and added soy sauce, lemon juice and grated ginger with a spoonful of cornstarch for thickening. I cooked all that just enough to let the sauce bubble a bit then served it up over brown rice, after I added a few chopped I’Itoi onions to top it all off.
By Saturday I had enough thin spears accumulated to ferment a jar of it. It’s a quick ferment, and the recipe is easy: Cut spears into 5″ lengths and stuff into a wide mouth quart jar. Add a few smashed cloves of garlic, and a hot pepper (or two) if you want a little heat. I used a dried Aji Angelo pepper that will add just a touch of spiciness. Cover with a 3.5% brine (about a heaping tablespoon of sea salt in two cups of water). Cover loosely with lid, and leave in cool room temps out of direct sunlight. Start tasting after about 3 days. Thinner spears will be ready sooner than thick ones. Last year when I made it I usually let it ferment for 5 days. The spears start to get mushy fairly quickly in a couple of weeks so you have to eat it fast!
In other news, it is still lettuce season here too. I cut a colorful head of Crawford’s Bibb lettuce that had overwintered in one of the cold frame beds. It’s my first time growing this one, and it’s a keeper for its hardiness as well as general performance and taste.
And I got a head of Hungarian Winter Pink lettuce that also overwintered in the cold frame. It made a little more of a head than the Crawford Bibb did, but both are very nice for salads.
To add a little color to the mix, I cut a couple of the Cavendish red oakleaf lettuces I have growing in a window box in the greenhouse. Cavendish is one that has colored up nicely in the greenhouse, though I’m sure it would get a darker red if grown outside in the sun.
I used a couple of leaves of the Hungarian Winter Pink as a base for a Rio Zape Bean and Sweet Potato Salad I made for lunch Saturday. I used one of our Purple sweet potatoes from storage, cut into chunks and roasted in the oven in a cast iron skillet until they were browned and crispy. I tossed the beans and sweet potatoes with a vinaigrette dressing, then topped with toasted pine nuts and a few fried sage leaves. I served some stir fried asparagus for a side dish.
Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!