May 3, 2007 at 7:05 a.m.
The Ancient Greeks apparently collected only wild asparagus since there were never any given directions for growing it. Somehow, Roman gardeners found out how to grow it and wrote down instructions for growing it. And so, right about now the asparagus shoots are either poking their scaly heads through the ground or it's being picked by vegetable gardeners in our area.
Yes, asparagus has been available in the grocery stores for sometime now, but fresh from the garden is the best.
So, let's start recipes with two casserole recipes that I think are delicious. They are almost the same -- but different.
3 c. (about 1-1/2 lbs.) trimmed, asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked in a small amount of water until just tender, drain well, saving the liquid
3 T. butter or margarine
3 T. flour
1 c. milk or the liquid from cooking the asparagus
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. grated American or cheddar cheese
2 c. fresh bread crumbs
1/4 c. melted butter or margarine
Put asparagus in a greased or sprayed 1-1/2 qt. casserole.
In a saucepan, melt butter, add flour, gradually stir in milk or liquid, stirring constantly. Cook until thick. Add salt and cheese.
Over medium-low heat, cook until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. If sauce is very thick, add a little more milk. Pour sauce over asparagus; cover with bread crumbs and drizzle with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, uncovered. Serves 4-6.
This casserole is so good. If you like shrimp, you'll think it's really good, too.
SHRIMP AND ASPARAGUS CASSEROLE
2-10 oz. packages frozen cut asparagus, divided
1/4 c. butter or margarine
1/4 c. flour
1 c. milk
3/4 c. half and half cream (light cream)*
1/4 c. dry white wine or 1/4 c. more cream or 1/4 c. chicken broth
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper (I use scant 1/8 t. white pepper.)
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. cooked small shrimp, tails removed
1/2 c. dry bread crumbs
2 T. melted butter or margarine
In a saucepan, cook asparagus in small amount of water for 3 minutes; drain well and set aside.
In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour; cook, stirring constantly for one minute. Gradually whisk in milk and cream; cook until thickened. Stir in wine or substitute. Season with salt and pepper. Quickly stir in egg yolk, cheese and shrimp.
In a buttered 2-1/2 qt. casserole, arrange half of asparagus; pour half of the sauce over. Repeat layers.
Combine crumbs and butter; sprinkle over top.
Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for 30 minutes. Serves six.
*If you don't have half and half, you can use evaporated milk (not condensed milk).
I have not made this salad, but it was served at a luncheon I attended recently, so I asked for the recipe so I could make it and share it with you.
FRESH-AS-SPRINGTIME ASPARAGUS FRUIT SALAD
3/4 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1-1/2 c.) cooked crisp-tender, drained and cooled
2 c. cubed ham
1-11 oz. can mandarin oranges sections, drained
1-8 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 c. red-skinned diced apple*
1/3 c. sliced (1/4-inch thick) celery
2 T. sliced green onion (1/4-inch thick) using part of green tops
1/2 to 1 t. curry powder (to your taste)
1 c. (8 oz.) light sour cream
In a large bowl, combine first seven ingredients. Stir curry powder into sour cream; stir into the remaining ham mixture. Chill one to two hours. Line a salad bowl with lettuce leaves. Spoon in asparagus mixture.
*Save the remaining half of the apple for garnish. When ready to serve, garnish with thin slices of apple.
Makes four main dish servings.
NOTE: This salad was served with popovers and a variety of pickles. A great lunch.
I served a sausage-potato-egg casserole for a brunch recently and wanted some sort of salad using asparagus so I tried this recipe. Everyone thought it was a great go-along with the casserole (except Bud as he doesn't like asparagus in any way, shape or form).
ORIENTAL ASPARAGUS SALAD
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups) cooked crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes, drained well
2 T. soy sauce (I use lite.)
1 T. olive or canola oil
1 T. white vinegar
1-1/2 t. sugar (I use half sugar sweetener.)
1 t. sesame seeds, toasted*
1/4 to 1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cumin
Put asparagus in a medium bowl.
Combine next seven ingredients in a jar with a lid; shake well. Pour over asparagus; toss to coat. Cover and chill one hour.
Drain off liquid before serving. Put a couple lettuce leaves in a sauce dish or on salad plates; divide asparagus among plates.
*To toast sesame seeds, put the seeds in a small, dry fry pan. Sprinkle seeds in the pan; stir over a medium heat until seeds are golden. Turn out onto paper toweling and let sit until cool. Makes four servings.
Thought for today: It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow.