There's a short window of time each year when Asparagus takes center stage in the garden, at the farmer's market, and even in grocery stores. During this Asparagus time (usually March and April), I buy it weekly and try to incorporate it in as many meals as possible. These tender green stalks suddenly become the centerpiece.This year I'm buying my asparagus from Farmer & The Dale.
I recently started reading a book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. In the chapter, "Waiting for Asparagus," I learned that "the asparagus plant's life history sets it apart, giving it a special edge as the year's first major edible." It's actually a perennial and comes back year after year. I also learned asparagus is considered an aphrodisiac.
Pass the asparagus. Enough said on that.
I recently created this recipe for an Asparagus Lasagna. We were having my husband's workout buddy over for dinner. Andrew is pretty serious about Crossfit workouts and he helped train my hubby for his recent competition. Andrew is also trying out a vegetarian diet to see how effective it is for athletes. For me as the chef that meant trying to find something hearty and yummy. Of course, I threw in some other veggies too but asparagus hogged the real stage for our meal. Four servings later I realized asparagus could be the "hearty" I was after.
-2 15-oz. cans organic diced tomatoes (I buy this in bulk from Costco when tomatoes are not in season.)
-1 6-oz. can organic tomato paste
-1 small onion, diced
-2 large garlic cloves, minced
-1 teaspoon dried basil
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-1 tablespoon honey
-1 package lasagna noodles
-1 16-oz. container ricotta cheese
-1 12-oz. package shredded mozarella cheese
-1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
-3 cups of other chopped organic vegetables (ideas: zucchini, summer squash, corn, butternut squash, spinach, carrots, etc.)
1. Make the marinara sauce first. Saute onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent and tender.
2. Saute garlic with onions until fragrant.
3. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and spices.
4. Simmer approximately 10 minutes and begin chopping vegetables.
5. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Spoon about half a cup of sauce into the bottom of a 13x9x2 glass pan or rectangle cake pan. Place the first layer of noodles over that sauce. (You do not need to boil the noodles ahead of time.)
7. Spread 1/3 of remaining sauce over noodles.
8. Add about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese over the noodles in small spoonfuls.
9. Add 1/3 of asparagus and other vegetables over the noodles and cheese.
10. Sprinkle 1/3 of mozarella cheese on top.
11. Repeat steps 6-10 with two more layers. Top with extra mozarella cheese.
12. Cover with foil. Bake in oven for 1 hour. (I like to remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to let the cheese turn a golden brown color.