by the handful

Nutritious culinary and healing recipes collected from the North American garden, orchard, forest, river and ocean

Spring Scorched Vegetables

DSCN0619Sometimes it’s nice to have limited ingredient choices as this helps to direct the creation of a recipe. Here I use almost everything that’s ready in my early spring garden this year. Although every fruit is a perennial plant, only a few vegetables are, asparagus being an exception. Perennial plants have the tremendous advantage of providing us with reliable food year after year. It’s too bad our ancestors propagated so many annual plants as this is beginning to back us into a corner with the need to constantly amend soils. This ongoing process has created a struggle to keep soil healthy and abate nutrient deficiencies, not to mention erosion, and this is a battle we are losing. The calcot is great vegetable. It is a reddish, sweeter version of the green onion. It is a prized vegetable in Barcelona Spain, although it is not nearly as famous anywhere else. The calcot can be substituted with the usual green onion, but be on the lookout for other bunching onions such as red baron, which is very similar to the calcot. Why not finish the whole thing off with a few edible flowers since they are good for the soul?

Spring Scorched Vegetables

1 bunch asparagus

1 bunch calcot onions

1  shallot sliced thin

apple cider vinegar

handful of Viola or Pansy flowers


clarified (ghee) butter

fresh mint

Chop woody ends off of asparagus and chop calcots in half across the waist.  Add one tbsp clarified butter to a cast iron skillet and heat to not quite high heat. Get ready for a hot sizzlin’, smokin’ good time. Add calcots to skillet and let cook for about three minutes before flipping; they should be a little charred on one side. Add the asparagus and nestle into already cooking onion. Add a sprinkle off salt over vegetables and cook three to five minutes more shaking pan several times during the process. We are cooking this hot ‘n fast so things should get a little scorched in spots. Remove vegetables from skillet and add to a serving dish. Add thinly sliced shallots to already heated skillet and reduce heat to low. Add a glug of apple cider vinegar and let cook away, add one more glug and shake pan as it cooks out again. Spread shallots on top of other vegetables. Chop fresh mint and add with Viola flowers to garnish. This is a great for a side dish or appetizer.

Asparagus: How to plant    If you are interested in growing asparagus you may be even more so when you see how easy it is. This is a great one for the lazy gardener. Asparagus can be grown from seed or root crowns. Root crowns seem to be preferred as they are ready for harvest earlier and can be purchased at many garden stores. Asparagus can be fit into small places such as along a fence line.

  1. In late winter-early spring buy several Asparagus root crowns from a garden store, hopefully different varieties.
  2. Dig a trough in a sunny location one to two feet wide, one foot deep, and any length you have available.
  3. In the middle of the trough add compost and work into existing soil making a little mound for each crown.
  4. Spread out roots of each crown in all directions, begin to bury by covering each crown completely with two inches of soil.
  5. Gently press in the soil as you water and keep the area weed free.
  6. It’s best not to harvest very many Asparagus the first year to help encourage root growth, the next year harvest a few more and after that they will be all yours for about 20 years to forever.



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