Last week I made one of my favorite seasonal dishes. If you imagined a multi-layered cake enrobed in a sublime chocolate frosting or a deep-dish fruit cobbler oozing with a syrupy filling and the perfect cinnamon-dusted crust, think again.
Instead, I’m especially drawn to the simplicity of a different springtime jewel. Colorful, tasty and nutritious, this one is a winner for me.
Roasted Caprese Salad is easy to prepare and lovely to serve. If you already have asparagus growing in your springtime garden, chances are the other ingredients may be found there, as well. Gather up some cherry, grape or Campari tomatoes, several sprigs of basil and head to the kitchen. For the past few years, I’ve developed a fondness for Balsamic Blooms and Cardinal basil. Both are growing in my garden now. The leaves hold up well using the chiffonade method and maintain their color nicely.
After reviewing the recipe, you might want to follow it, as is, or try my suggestions for adding a little punch to the flavor profile. Once roasted and out of the oven, I like to drizzle the tomatoes with a generous splash of Apple Balsamic Vinegar. Next comes a sprinkling of Fennel Salt with Pollen. Finish the dish with chopped basil and prepare to dazzle your family or guests.
Master Gardener, Sheila Kostelny, graciously shared her asparagus growing tips in a short Q & A.
When did you first plant asparagus in your lovely backyard garden?
“I planted 2-year crowns from Redenta’s in 2014. I believe the variety is UC 157. I lean on the wisdom of Dr. Sam Cotner, Dr. Joseph Masabni and Skip Richter for advice regarding all my vegetables.”
When do you start harvesting?
“I harvest them from about the second to third week in February for about 6 weeks. Then they present foliage that I will use for flower arrangements for the rest of the growing season.”
How long do you expect your asparagus to produce?
“In North Texas, the crowns should continue to produce for 12-15 years. That’s quite a bonus for little effort on our part.”
What do you enjoy most about having asparagus growing in your garden?
“Asparagus are a ‘no fuss’ no muss’ vegetable. They require little and reward you with a sweet, bountiful harvest. What I especially love about them is that they grace your garden in the dead of winter when there is nothing else to bring to the table.”
Happy Growing Sheila! We appreciate your asparagus “tips”.
Linda Alexander, Dallas County Master Gardener Class of 2008