Thursday, March 13, 2014

First Harvest: Asparagus

As the snow melts and daylight stretches into evening, people who like to eat with the seasons know what's coming: asparagus. 

Asparagus is a spring vegetable. Take advantage of grocery sales and head to the kitchen for a first taste of spring.

How To Buy
Choose firm, bright green asparagus stalks with plump, tightly closed tips. Fading color is a sign of deterioration. Check the stem ends to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriveled or dried out.
How To Store
Uncooked asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator. The secret is to keep the vegetable cool and damp. Store spears upright in a container with the stems wading in an inch of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag. Easier still: Wrap the ends in moist paper towels and drop the bundle into a plastic bag.

Spinach-Asparagus Quiche
Cook's notes: The filling made enough for two quiches. I wanted to test Karen Miller's theories for a perfect quiche as outlined in her book Succotash Dreams. I posted a review of her book February 25, 2014. 

Karen shared a few of her secrets to making a perfect quiche. One is the ratio of two ingredients; eggs to cream. The ratio is always equal. So one cup of eggs to one cup of heavy cream or half and half. The second secret is brushing the crust with Dijon mustard before filling it.  And the third is adding a bit of a base, either vegetable or seafood base into the egg mixture, along with salt and pepper. 
I started with a basic recipe from Midwest Living April 2014 and went from there. I substituted white cheddar for the yellow cheddar cheese. This quiche makes a great vegetarian meal for dinner rather than the usual breakfast item. 
  • 1 package Pillsbury rolled refrigerated pie crusts (2 in a box)
  • 1 tsp. each dried parsley, mustard and basil
  • 1/2 cup torn baby spinach leaves
  • 6 oz. asparagus spears cut in 2 inch lengths
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2  cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup half and half
  • Dijon mustard
  • Let pie crust stand at room temperature for 20 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 425 and place each pie crust in a pie pan, crimp edges
  • Line pastry shell with 2 sheets of foil (blind baking) overlap the foil so edges will extend over the pie pan
  • Bake at 425 for 8 minutes, remove foil and bake 3 minutes more 
  • Mix in a blender eggs, cream, half and half, spices
  • Bring salted water to a boil, add asparagus and boil 1 minute, drain    
  • Brush bottom crust with Dijon mustard
  • Divide the cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese between both pie pans
  • Divide the onion, torn spinach leaves and chopped asparagus spears between two pans
  • Tear foil strips and place around the outside edges of each pan
  • Divide filling and slowly pour in pie pans
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce to 300 degrees and bake 30 minutes
  • Let stand 10 minutes before serving
  • Freeze the extra quiche


1 comment:

  1. I love asparagus and miss being on the farm where it grew in the road ditch. Thanks for the recipe.