Reno-Tahoe’s dishing up limited spring crops (Hello, asparagus!).
Written by Claire McArthur
Late spring is marked by a number of things in the Reno-Tahoe region: idyllic warm days intermixed with surprise snow storms, new seasonal menus at your favorite haunts, and for those locavores following the grow cycle, the short-lived asparagus season.
As someone who finds ways to put five times the recommended amount of vegetables in every dish, it is no small thing for me to say that asparagus is my favorite veggie. I love it shaved, tossed in olive oil and placed atop a white pizza à la Smitten Kitchen. It’s the perfect potluck snack when wrapped in prosciutto and baked until crispy. And when blanched and puréed with butter, cream, chicken broth, and a dash of lemon into the classic French soup, crème d'asperges, it is nothing short of divine.
It’s an especially impressive vegetable when you consider that a crop will continue to produce yearly from its underground crown for upwards of 20 years.
Two years ago I attended a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners of Lake Tahoe course devoted to growing asparagus in the Sierra Nevada. I was lucky enough to receive a half dozen crowns that are known to do well in mountainous terrains. As directed by the gardening gurus, I’m allowing my crop to establish itself for a couple of years before taking a harvest. It is by no means a crop for those who crave instant gratification.
So while the asparagus stock is available, make sure to pick up a bunch, along with other limited but lovely in-season crops we have hitting stores and farm stands across the region.
NeuDay Farm in Winnemucca is just one of the many farms across the region producing beautiful radishes right now. Photo courtesy of NeuDay Farm
Lattin Farms (Fallon)
- Asparagus (limited)
- Green garlic
NeuDay Farm (Winnemucca)
- Lettuce greens
Rhubarb is a harbinger of spring for farmers and home gardeners alike. Photo courtesy of NeuDay Farm
Ready to use that fresh bunch of asparagus? Try this recipe.
Curried Cream of Asparagus Soup
(courtesy of Jane Cudahy; adapted from “Beyond Parsley” (1984) by the Kansas City Junior League. Serves 6 to 8)
2 pounds fresh asparagus, peeled and cut into pieces
3 cups chicken broth
2 shallots, finely chopped
¼ cup butter
5 tablespoons flour
3 cups half and half
1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry or lemon juice (optional)
In large saucepan, cook asparagus pieces, broth, and shallots until tender. Put in food processor and blend until smooth (strain if necessary to achieve desired texture). In the same saucepan, melt butter and add flour, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Next, add asparagus purée and half and half. Stir to combine. Add seasonings and optional sherry or lemon juice. Simmer 15 minutes. For garnish, make homemade croutons coated in butter and crisped up in the oven.