Seasonal Chef: Spring Has Finally Sprung with Asparagus


Could this have been the longest winter ever? The snow never seemed to stop even when Spring arrived last month. Finally the weather is cooperating and we should be seeing consistent temps in the 50s and 60s this week. My favorite seasons are the transitional one: Spring and Autumn. I’m not really sure why? Maybe the colors? the weather? It all seems so perfect to me.

With the arrival of Spring, and this week in particular, I am marking the beginning of my third year writing this column. In honor of that, I looked back to see what my first post was about, and found it to be about Springtime Asparagus. Its been a fun two years of searching for seasonal ingredients and creating recipes for you. I am very much looking forward to stretching myself in the coming year with new and wonderful recipes.

That said, lets take another look at asparagus. We all know it, love it, and use it in a variety of ways: steamed, grilled and pureed. It’s nutritional value can’t be beat: high in folate and vitamin C to name a few; low in sodium, with zero fat and cholesterol. You want to look for nice firm spears that are a rich green color. Dried out ends, mushy spears and stalks are not good eats.

Peeled asparagus.

After a nice rinse in cool water lay them out on a towel and pat them dry. You can do the “snap” method where you bend the spear gently and the tough end will snap off. I prefer to just move up a couple if inches and lop off the bottom. You can pretty much tell where the woody tough part ends and the nice green part starts. If they are a little thicker you can also peel off the chewy skin.

I have prepared asparagus in the most typical ways: grilled, roasted and steamed. In a crudités platter and tossed into a soup. I haven’t however breaded them. After a little perusal of the internet I came across a recipe on Pinterest that used cornmeal. Next week I’m going to be teaching a Couples Cooking Class at Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights, and will be using Wild Hive Farm corn meal and flour for a couple of the dishes, which will include this one! 

Cornmeal for Asparagus

For this week’s recipe I used a coarse grind cornmeal from Bob’s Red Mill. After a dip in egg I dredged the spears in the cornmeal seasoned with ground chipotle chili and salt.

Cornmeal crusted asparagus

Just before baking I spritzed them a little with Olivio Spray. I will leave that step up to you. I did try them with and without the spray. The spray does give the spears a little more golden color and a slightly buttery taste, but the difference was minor.

Cornmeal-crusted Asparagus, Seasonal Chef, Maria Reina

In just about 20 minutes you have a crunchy baked alternative for your asparagus, and a sure hit at the dinner table. Click this link for my easy: Baked Asparagus Spears.

Starting this week I will be adding something new to my column: links to the recipes from last year and the year before. I hope you give them another look, and another try.

Buon Appetito!

One year ago: Egg Salad with Dill and Pickled Celery
Two years ago: Asparagus, Crab and Mushroom Soup



About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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