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!
It looks like you ate quite well last week with all that luscious asparagus fresh from the garden. Your overwintered lettuces came through looking great.
Asparagus chicken stir fry is mouth-watering. Store-bought asparagus has not been good here this year.
Asparagus is one crop that we don’t grow. We don’t have very much to harvest at the moment.
The sweet potato and bean dish looks delicious and all that luscious asparagus. Mmm. It’s amazing how well your lettuce did even with the weather warming up.
Yes, it’s been warm here and I wonder how long the lettuce is going to hold up. What a strange year it has been, weather-wise.
It has been a very long time since I have participated in Harvest Monday. I may have to join in this coming Monday.
We would love to have you Shawn Ann!