Facts about asparagus:
Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and their spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period and will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer. The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking…early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours. After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.
A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fibre, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin.
Asparagus has No Fat, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium. (Information from the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board)
- 2 x 300 g asparagus, tips cut off and the stems roughly chopped
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 2 leeks, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 tbsp parsley leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1¼ cup arborio rice
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 1 ltr vegetable broth
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- ½ cup freshly grated “Not Just a Pasta Cheese” cheese (this is a vegetarian cheese similar to Parmesan which is not vegetarian)
- In the inner pot, melt the butter.
- Add the leeks and half the parsley and mint. Cook until soft.
- Add the rice and stir to coat each grain.
- Add the asparagus stems (keeping the tips for later) and stir.
- Stir in the wine and the stock. Bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes stirring all the time.
- Put on the lid, turn off the heat and transfer the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
- Shut the lid and leave to thermal cook without power for 2 hours.
- When ready stir in the cheese, lemon juice, zest, salt and the asparagus tips.
- Serve on heated plates garnished with the remaining parsley, mint and slivers of cheese.