By Joy Johnson, Master Gardener
Down the road a bit from a small town, lived a dad, a mom and four sons. The mom liked to garden, so the dad cleared a spot in the sun and fenced it in so the deer would eat their meals in the woods. The mom enjoyed growing a variety of vegetables. One early spring day she came home with a box of asparagus sprouts, called crowns. She called the three older sons to come out and help her plant. Son number four was still in diapers. They stood looking at the vegetable patch through the fence and realized there wasn’t any room for the asparagus crowns. So, they walked a little way up the hill in the backyard, to a sunny spot and dug out a place to plant the crowns.
The sons were a little skeptical about asparagus. They had eaten it at their grandmother’s house last year. Son number one thought it was okay, son number 2 did not like it and son number 3 was ambivalent. But they planted and watered it along with the rest of the vegetables.
This family had a large yard to mow, with two hills. They decided that each of the three older sons would take turns mowing on rotation. Spring turned to summer and summer to fall with the sons each mowing the lawn in turn, going around the vegetable garden, up the back hill carefully skirting the asparagus patch. After two years of this, the third spring sprung and mom decided the asparagus was ready to harvest. Cutting some, she took it in and boiled it for dinner. Son #1 thought it was okay, son #2 hated it and son #3 tolerated it.
The weeks went by with asparagus being served about three times a week. This was getting intolerable for son #2. Soon it was his turn to mow the lawn. He walked back and forth, back and forth, then carefully went around the vegetable garden. He started up the back hill and had to once again skirt around the asparagus patch while mowing the rest of the hill. Well, he had had it. He revved the lawn mower, dug his baseball cleats into the grass (he always mowed in cleats, better traction) and pushed the mower right over the asparagus, let it roll back scooted it over a few inches and did it again, let it roll back, scooted it over more and did it yet again. Never again was he going to have to eat that dreaded stuff. Son #3 was cleaning up after the dog and looked on in horror, not believing his brother was actually mowing the asparagus! Son #2 finished mowing, cleaned up the asparagus scraps and threw them into the woods.
When Mom came out a few days later looking for fresh asparagus, the patch was gone, simply vanished. She thought maybe it would come back the next year, or the next, but it never did. The sons did make sure that the area was kept mowed. She eventually found out that son #2 was the culprit. I’m not sure what his punishment was, but he chuckled when he told me this story the other night while eating the asparagus salad below. Yes, I’m married to son #2 and he likes asparagus now.
2 ½ pounds fresh asparagus (white or green)
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
Fresh thyme, about one ounce
1/3-pound Jarlsberg cheese or Swiss cheese, shredded
¼ cup spicy sprouts (radish and alfalfa combination)
Trim asparagus ends and peel stems. Place white asparagus in boiling water with 1 tsp salt; reduce heat and cook 4-6 minutes. Add green asparagus and continue cooking until crisp-tender (4-6 min). Plunge into cold water to chill.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, kosher salt and pepper. Remove leaves from 2/3rds of the thyme stems; coarsely chop leaves and add to olive oil mixture. Place chilled asparagus on platter; pour dressing over asparagus, garnish with remaining thyme on stems, Jarlsberg cheese and spicy sprouts.
Amount: 8 servings
Tip: if using only green asparagus cook for a total of 6 minutes (less time if using thin asparagus stalks) until crisp-tender.