Reciplease! Get your fill of local asparagus while it’s peaking

Everywhere I look, there’s asparagus.

Even out my own back window, in the lower garden, where we planted it last summer. That asparagus needs a few cycles before it can be picked, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it from many other local sources.

I tried a new-to-me farmer’s market this week, Market & Penn, and what did I see at the first produce stand I walked past?

Beautiful, brilliantly green pencil-thin asparagus.

I won’t try to turn you onto thin asparagus if you prefer thick, but the young stuff is just so tender and flavorful that I reach for it every time.

Store bunches of asparagus upright in a small bowl of water to keep them farm fresh for days after purchase. Photo by Flickr user Livin' Spoonful.

Store bunches of asparagus upright in a small bowl of water to keep them farm fresh for days after purchase. Photo by Flickr user Livin’ Spoonful.

This time, I snagged mine at William L. Miller’s Fresh Poulty & Vegetables stand at the back of the indoor Market & Penn Farmer’s Market in York city.

Miller’s is a family-owned stand that’s been at the market for … wait for it … 66 years. The locally grown produce, of which there’s quite a bit, is clearly marked “York County.” I know I’m biased toward local, but it really does look better than the non-local food (though the North Carolina strawberries I saw weren’t anything to scoff at).

At $3.99 a pound, the asparagus was a pretty good deal. I was told it was picked the day before, so it doesn’t get much more fresh than that. I’m willing to pay for “fresh.”

And I knew just what to make with it.

Storage tip: Asparagus should be immediately cleaned, then covered and refrigerated. If you need to keep it longer than a couple of days, wrap the stalks in a wet paper towel or even stand a rubber-banded bunch up in a small bowl of water.

For an easy protein to go with your fresh, local asparagus, I like eggs.

And when I say “I like eggs,” I mean, I adore eggs and would eat them at every meal.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I don’t like weighing down veggies with heavy sauces. Even when I recommend a cream sauce to you, as in last week’s fiddleheads post, the sauce will be as light as possible, and usually dressing a base for the vegetables, rather than poured over them.

I’m a big fan of letting vegetables breathe.

The only exception is when a sunnyside up egg, with all its decadent, yolky goodness, is plopped on top of a pile of slightly charred roasted asparagus …

Roasted asparagus with sunnyside up eggs

  • A bunch of fresh asparagus of uniform thickness, stalks trimmed
  • Sesame oil, and sesame seeds, if you have them
  • However many eggs you want (here’s my requisite plug for local, farm fresh eggs free of hormones and antibiotics)
  • A little butter for frying the eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss cleaned, trimmed and dry asparagus in a large bowl with a tablespoon or two of the sesame oil and a couple pinches of salt. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on foil or in a baking dish. Roast about 20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until browning and just tender. Pick a test piece from the middle to see if the thickest part cuts easily, but a little crunch is fine.

During the last five minutes of roasting your asparagus, fire up a skillet for the eggs. Melt butter, then crack eggs into the skillet slowly, taking care not to break the yolk. (Yet. There is a time for breaking the yolk, and it will be glorious, but for now, patience.) Cover the eggs so the yolk sets a bit before the bottoms of the eggs have a chance to burn. The yolks should get a film over them, but the whites should be fully firm when you take them out.

To plate it: Arrange stalks of roasted asparagus on the plate, then top each grouping of asparagus with egg. Salt and pepper to taste.

And then comes the best part — pick up your fork and slowly move it toward your egg. When you’re ready to take your first bite, and not a second before, jab the egg yolk with your fork and spend no more than 5 seconds watching the golden deliciousness spill over the green roasted deliciousness, making a whole new deliciousness.

My idea of a happy plate is loaded with food that came from within 15 miles of my house. My dinner last night was farm fresh eggs topping asparagus that had been picked two days prior.

My idea of a happy plate is loaded with food that came from within 15 miles of my house. My dinner last night was farm fresh eggs topping asparagus that had been picked two days prior.

OK, now stop wasting time food-gazing and eat, already.

Locally in-season: Asparagus

Where I got it: William L. Miller Fresh Poultry & Vegetables, Market & Penn Farmer’s Market, 380 W. Market St., York, open 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, free off-street parking

 

 

 

Stacia M. Fleegal

York Daily Record multiplatform journalist. Degrees in creative writing from Lycoming College and Spalding University, and a coupla books with my name on them. Central PA native who came home after floating around for a while, but always grounded by words and the places and people I remember.

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1 Response

  1. May 16, 2013

    […] I had some leftovers after my trip to Miller’s farm stand at Market & Penn and my subsequent bout with decadence, a la eggs and asparagus. […]

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