Round the Table: Asparagus, the Bountiful Investment

It’s official. I’ve put down roots.  Well, asparagus crowns actually.  I developed a passion for asparagus as a child, but sadly, none of my real estate investments involved an asparagus patch1. But now, I’ve taken the plunge, invested in a few high quality asparagus crowns and improved my property.

Unlike most vegetables, asparagus is a perennial. It’s the veggie that keeps on giving.  The spears that make me so happy are the new shoots that emerge in the spring. Like any good investment, after planting, it’s a few years before you can harvest. The plants must mature before the spears can be harvested, but once mature and well cared for, the plants will produce for 15, 20 or sometimes even 30 years. Clearly, investing

in asparagus is a long term, solid and highly lucrative investment.

Asparagus Goat Cheese Quiche

Yield: 8 servings

  • Make this simple quiche with spring’s most tender asparagus and fresh from the farm goat cheese!

    1 Tablespoon of butter

  • 1 leek (white and light green part only, washed and sliced)
  • 1 pound of fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups of whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 9-inch pie crust fitted into a pie plate and well chilled

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large skillet set over medium high heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted completely, add the leek and asparagus and season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking, stirring frequently until the asparagus is crisp-tender about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir in the parsley.  Place the pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet and add ½ of the goat cheese crumbles.  Pour the egg mixture over the goat cheese and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake until the center of the quiche is just set, 50-60 minutes rotating halfway through the cooking time. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Zuppa di Primavera

Yield: 4 servings

  • Zuppa di Primavera is Italian for Spring Soup, and this one certainly fits the bill!

    2 pounds of fresh spring asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1” pieces. Reserve the tough ends. Reserve about 20 tips for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil,
  • 1 large shallot, halved; slice half the shallot
  • 1 large clove of garlic, halved; mince half the garlic
  • 1 large red potato, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup of half and half
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

In a large sauce pan, boil 6 cups of water; season with about 2 teaspoons of salt. Plunge the reserved asparagus tips in the boiling water and boil until they are bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove from the boiling water and transfer them to an ice water bath immediately to stop the cooking.

Add the tough ends of the asparagus to the boiling water along half of the shallot (no need to chop or peel) and half of the clove of garlic (again, no need to chop or peel).  Reduce the heat and simmer the asparagus stock for 20-25 minutes.

In a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the remaining half shallot, sliced and the remaining half garlic, minced. Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Stir in the diced potato and about 1 cup of the asparagus stock and simmer until the potato is tender (about 10 minutes).

Strain the remaining asparagus stock into the saucepan with the potato; add the chopped asparagus and cook about 5 more minutes or until the asparagus is tender. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Use a stick blender or countertop blender to puree the soup. Reserve about 1 cup of the soup. Slowly stir in the half and half; returning the pan to the heat as necessary to heat the soup; do not boil after adding the half and half. Thin the soup with the reserved 1 cup of soup as needed.

Serve hot garnished with the reserved blanched asparagus tips and shaved Parmesan cheese.

This Asparagus Casserole is a classic from my childhood. It’s not fancy, but it’s delicious.

Asparagus Casserole

Yield: 6 servings

  • 2 pounds of fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed and sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper (I use more)
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup saltine cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9×13” baking dish with non-stick spray; set aside.

Bring 1 quart of water to the boil in a large saucepan; boil the asparagus until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flour taste, whisking constantly. Do not brown the roux.  Gradually whisk in the milk and continue cooking until the mixture is smooth and thick; taste and adjust seasoning.

Arrange half of the asparagus in the prepared baking dish; top with the egg slices and half of the white sauce.  Arrange the remaining asparagus over the white sauce and pour the remaining white sauce over the asparagus.

In a small bowl, stir the cracker crumbs together with the melted butter. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the asparagus.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly and the crumb topping is golden brown.  Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

1 Sophisticated real estate research has shown that homes with a mature asparagus patch sell for at least a million times more than comparable properties.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]