by the handful

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

Spring Asparagus Garden Mix

I planted asparagus in my garden two years ago and this spring my patience paid off. I have gardened for my entire life but this is the first time I have eaten fresh asparagus from my own garden and it was well worthwhile. Asparagus has the distinction of being one of the few perennial vegetables grown on a regular basis, that is, those that can be harvested each year without replanting. Nearly every fruit we eat is a perennial plant. Plants that are permanately planted have the advantage of not needing the soil to be reworked and amended each season, not to mention easier to maintain. Put simply, the more perennial vegetables we eat the more sustainable our diet becomes. Here are a few more great perennial vegetables: artichoke, oca, ramps, rhubarb, and sorrel. Both kale and garlic can be grown as perennials if left intact after the season too. Okay, so back to the asparagus, here I have combined it with a few other brightly colored spring fixins for total spring-tasticness. It also has the look of a Mother’s Day side dish I would say.

Spring Asparagus Garden Mix

10-16 oz asparagus

1 large carrot


2 sprigs fresh tarragon

Viola Flowers

olive oil

apple cider vinegar


Add two inches of water to a deep-dished skillet, add a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add cold water and several ice cubes to a baking dish to make an ice bath and set aside.

Meanwhile, chop the very ends of the asparagus spears off. The tendency sometimes is to almost chop them in half but this is a waste, there is a lot of good fiber in asparagus so limit the removed portion to an inch or two. Cut the stems off the carrot and use the large grating side of a box grater to make long thin slices of the carrot. If you happen to have a mandolin, use it as it does work even better.

When the water begins to boil add asparagus first and then the carrot strips. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, turning down heat as needed to maintain a simmer before removing from heat and straining. Add the asparagus and carrots to the ice bath and let sit for one minute before removing and setting them on a kitchen towel to dry.

Place the asparagus and carrot on a serving dish and add a drizzle of olive oil and a then a drizzle of the vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and then toss with your hands. Snap off the leaves from the tarragon and sprinkle over the dish. Next grate the lemon rind off with the smallest setting on the box grater, save the rest of the lemon for another use. Use as much lemon zest as you like, taste and adjust any of the seasonings as needed. Arrange the Viola flowers on the dish and serve.


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