In Michigan, as the weather starts to warm and the landscape brings that cheerful color change from brown to green, my mind immediately turns to the abundance of local produce soon to become available. Chief on that springtime list is Michigan asparagus. I’ve been known to chow through pounds and pounds per week during the quick-to-fade period in May and June while it is available. Of course, I have to encourage you to do the same – get it while it’s fresh (and so much more affordable), folks!
We’re incredibly lucky to live in the #3 state in the nation for asparagus production (it’s a $15 million per year industry here in Michigan!). This abundant production means that we’re able to find fresh, local asparagus everywhere we turn while it’s in season. Not only are our farmers markets (find one here) bountiful with these tasty spears, but most grocery stores carry Michigan asparagus while it’s in season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a rural asparagus-growing region, keep an eye out for roadside stands overflowing with the bounty. There is nothing quite like pulling over to the side of the road, weighing out your own produce and tossing some money in a container to pay using the honor system.
In the next month, keep an eye out for Michigan asparagus as a way to better support our local agricultural economy and decrease the energy output required to get your food to your plate. If you purchase most of your produce at grocery stores, take a peek at the rubber bands holding together bunches of asparagus. The bands will say “Michigan Asparagus” if they’re from the state!
Not only is asparagus a joyful part of spring in Michigan and absolutely delicious, it’s really good for you! Just four spears pack 38% of your daily vitamin K, as well as a powerful supply of folate, vitamin A, and those all-valuable antioxidants. Asparagus also boats high amounts of inulin, a type of fiber that doubles as a prebiotic – helping you to better digest everything you eat alongside it!
As you’ve likely gleaned, I’d be happy to eat asparagus with just about anything. Grilled, roasted, or raw – there are endless ways to prepare it simply for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The recipes below will help you step it up a notch, but can all be prepared in under 30 minutes and have short ingredient lists. You got this!
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
This is the simplest and, dare I say, best way to eat asparagus. Bacon wrapped asparagus has been taking the online food world by storm, so maybe you’ve already seen it… but I can’t help insisting you try this if you haven’t yet done so!
Simply bunch together about five stalks of asparagus, and wrap them with one slice of bacon. Place your bundle on a baking sheet with the loose end of the bacon down so it stays in place. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the bacon is cooked through.
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata
Frittatas are my favorite way to dress up eggs and impress people. They’re simple to throw together and can be made with any veggies, meat, or cheese you have on hand! This recipe will make a small frittata fit for two, but can be doubled or tripled for a larger one!
4 local eggs
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste
5 spears fresh asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Sautée asparagus in a small oven-safe pan with a little butter or oil for two or three minutes. Pour in the egg mixture, and dollop in chunks of goat cheese (a little or a lot, depending how much you love cheese!).
Let cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, until the bottom half of the eggs seem solid (about five minutes), then place the pan in the oven with the broiler on. Let cook until the top half of the eggs are cooked, and slightly browned, about five minutes. These cooking times will vary depending how thick your layer of eggs is, just keep an eye on it!
Slice and serve hot.
Couscous and Asparagus Salad
This recipe is super simple to toss together and tastes great warm or cold. That means you can have it for dinner at home, pack it up for a picnic meal, or bring it to work for lunch!
1 cup Israeli couscous, cooked
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1/4inch pieces and sauteed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp cup olive oil (I like to use Fustini’s Meyer lemon oil)
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest of half a lemon
While the asparagus and couscous are cooking, whisk together all the other ingredients for your dressing. Then just toss the asparagus, couscous, and dressing together in a bowl. Everyone feels differently about what the best amount of dressing is, so I would start with half the dressing, then taste it and add more as you wish. Leftover dressing will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a few weeks, and is great over a simple salad. Toss a little freshly grated parmesan on for an extra special finishing touch!