It’s the start of asparagus season on Vancouver Island! Asparagus takes awhile to get established (2 years for a good harvest if you’ve planted crowns, 4 if you start with the seeds!) but is very rewarding once you do because as a perennial, it peeks up to announce spring with very little care required. Depending what variety you choose, they can be hearty to Zone 2 so you should be able to grow them anywhere on the British Columbia coast and of course south into Washington and Oregon. Once you get a bed established, it can produce for up to 20 years!
If you have the space, I highly recommend planting it in your garden because it is truly every easy and when there is not much else growing besides herbs, it’s exciting to have an early spring vegetable. Try to keep it as weed free as you can because asparagus doesn’t like competition but don’t weed too deep and disturb the roots. As a beginner gardener, I mistakenly planted my strawberry patch right next to my asparagus bed and now I am forever pulling out strawberry runners. *sigh* The season can vary from 4 to 8 weeks once established.
My favourite gardening guide has great info on growing it, check out West Coast Seeds for more detailed information on when to plant and how to care for.
Lemon Asparagus Risotto
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 medium Shallot, finely diced
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 c Arborio Rice (or other short grain rice)
- 1/4 c Dry White Wine
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 3 1/2 c Vegetable Stock, heated
- 1 Lemon, zest and juice
- 2 c Asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 c Parley, finely chopped
- 1/4 c Chives, finely chopped
- 1/2 c Parmesan Cheese, grated
- c Heavy Cream
- Salt and Pepper
In a large pan with high sides heat olive oil on medium low, add shallot and garlic and cook gently until translucent.
Stir in rice, wine and bay leaf.
Start adding in stock 1/2 c at a time stirring every few minutes and adding more stock as it becomes absorbed.
After 20 minutes when the rice is nearly done, add in the lemon zest, juice, asparagus and herbs and stir gently.
Add in parmesan and cream and cook, stirring gently 5 more minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in bowls and garnish with chives and more freshly grated parmesan cheese and pepper