Farmer’s Table: Asparagus and Ham Quiche
The asparagus season is about to come to an end. I don’t remember a year when the yield has been greater.
Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. It is available year-round in supermarkets, but I never buy it there. I always wait for its seasonal debut here in West Virginia. Asparagus heralds spring and signals all of the great things to come from the garden.
I prefer fresh asparagus, picked directly from the garden. Homegrown asparagus stalks can be snapped where the tender area meets the tougher part next to the ground, so there is little to no waste.
Once picked, asparagus quickly loses its vitamins and sugars when left at room temperature. To maintain freshness, stand the asparagus in a container filled with about one inch of water and place it in the refrigerator.
The best way to preserve nutrients is to steam the stalks. The thickness of the spears will determine the amount of time it will take to cook the asparagus. I usually sort my spears by size so they will cook at the same rate. Average-size spears generally take about five minutes to steam, stir-fry or cook in the microwave.
Asparagus has so many nutritional benefits, so it is important to store and cook it properly. It is low in calories, and is an excellent source of fiber, protein and folic acid. Some studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have little to no folate levels. A five-ounce serving of asparagus packs a whopping 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folacin.
Asparagus helps dissolve uric acid and contains the highest glutathione level of tested foods. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and anti-carcinogen.
My asparagus bed was established in the ‘70s. I have tried many asparagus dishes, and I continue to add to my recipe collection. Asparagus can be steamed, roasted and grilled. I have used it in soups, salads and entrees. I have an asparagus cookbook that uses the tender stalks in desserts, although, I must admit, I have yet to try asparagus cheesecake or asparagus ice cream.
There is only a short time remaining to take advantage of locally grown asparagus. When the season ends, I bid farewell and wait until April rolls around again.
Asparagus and Ham Quiche
Crust for a single-crust 9-inch pie
¾ pound asparagus, cut into ½-inch lengths
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1-½ cups cheddar cheese
1 cup finely diced ham
1 cup half-and-half
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of pepper
Cook asparagus in boiling salted water until bright green and tender-crisp (about 3 minutes). Drain well.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out pastry and line pie-pan. Carefully prick the crust with a fork, being careful not to prick all the way through to the pan. Bake blind for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in frying pan. Add onions and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until softened.
Sprinkle ¾ cup of cheese into pastry shell. Evenly distribute onions, ham and asparagus over top.
In a small bowl, beat eggs, half-and-half, salt, mustard and pepper together. Pour over asparagus mixture in pie shell. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean (about 45 minutes). Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our websites at metrokanawha.com and putnamreview.com. Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.