I love asparagus, not just because it’s delicious and has lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. I love it, because it’s perennial. No matter how long and cold the winter has been, that dutiful spring vegetable is one of the first signs of life in my kitchen garden every year. And, is it ever welcome! However, I must admit that I owe its presence entirely to my dad.
Dad is the most talented and diligent gardener I know, producing picture-perfect vegetable gardens with enough corn, squash, beans, and tomatoes to feed a small country. He started this little asparagus patch a few years before I moved back home. He was gardening on the very same spot that my great-grandfather and grandfather cultivated years ago. Dad really liked this particular area as it has about a foot of premium topsoil. So, I have to say that he wasn’t overly excited when I requested that he relinquish it so that I could start my own kitchen garden. He impressed upon me that I needed to take “good care” of the asparagus patch, because it was “QUITE an endeavor” to get it established: first, a trench is dug deeply enough to protect the root system of the plant during the winter months; second, it must be kept clean–no weeds; third, don’t cut foliage down until after first frost (necessary for photosynthesis for next year’s crop); fourth, fertilize annually; and last, it takes about three years before harvesting a substantial crop.
After imparting this information, Dad graciously, although reluctantly, left me to my own devices regarding the asparagus patch. My patch of asparagus may not be as perfect and productive as Dad’s new patch, which by the way, is 30 feet long; however, it’s still producing enough lovely asparagus that I was able to pick a mess–what we Southerners refer to as enough for dinner. With this mess of asparagus, I prepared the following simple and delicious pasta dish.
Penne Pasta with Asparagus, Peas, and Shrimp:
2 cups of penne pasta ( I used quinoa pasta)
2 cups of sliced asparagus ( 2 inch slices)
1 cup of peas
10-12 medium shrimp (tails removed)
4 pinches of sea salt added to pasta water
1-2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
feta and parmesan cheeses to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Using a medium pot, add six cups of water and four pinches of sea salt. Bring to a boil. Add penne pasta, asparagus, and peas. After cooking pasta, asparagus, and peas for five minutes, add shrimp and cook an additional four minutes. Drain ingredients into a colander. After draining, return ingredients to pot. Toss ingredients with olive oil. Once ingredients have been tossed with olive oil, place in serving dishes. Sprinkle feta and parmesan cheeses and add salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine!
My favorite is a Sauvignon Blanc blend from Chateau de Fontenille which is located in the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux. This lovely wine is a combination of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon, 20% Muscadelle, and 20% Sauvignon Gris. Aged on the fine lees to give extra body and complexity to the blend, the wine also spends 18 months in a combination of 50% vat and 50% oak (1/3 of the oak barrels are renewed each year). Plus, Food & Wine listed it among the 10 Best Wines in the World.