Lee & Maria’s Recipes


Asparagus is one of the very first crops to begin coming off Essex County fields and is a sure sign of spring. The Harrow farmer we purchase most of our asparagus from is always nice when we call an obscene number of times to see if his crop is ready, but we know we’re that annoying boyfriend that latches on and calls way too soon. We just can’t help it, we get so excited for spring to start and for those first local crops to hit the market shelves.

Asparagus is such a strange crop it actually has its own plant classification. It was once thought to be related to garlic and onion plants genetically, but scientists ruled that theory out, allowing asparagus to stand tall all on its own. It’s believed the veggie is native to Europe and was brought to North America by settlers.

Asparagus grown in Harrow

Asparagus takes about 3 years to root properly in fields and gardens and it takes about 7 years until you get full production from the plant. That’s a long time for farmers to dedicate to a single crop without any return, which is why there aren’t a lot of asparagus farmers.

A couple of quick facts:

White Asparagus

What’s the deal? Well, it’s just regular old asparagus. The only difference is the farmer covers the stalk with dirt or some other covering while it grows. This prevents photosynthesis on the plant, basically eliminating its green colour. Some people say it’s a little milder tasting and is easier to digest. Personally, I like colour in veggies.

Stinky Pee

Not in your imagination. For a large number of us, our bodies break down one of the acids in asparagus into a compound that closely resembles sulphur. That’s why it gets a bit smelly after a good helping of delicious asparagus.

Here are our 5 Easy Ways to Use Asparagus (recipe to follow):
1. Blanched

When cooking asparagus, you can tie them into little bundles, which makes them easier to remove. Drop these bundles or individual spears into some boiling water, cover and cook for three to five minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Take them out, drain and plunge into some ice-cold water, or serve straight away.

2. Steamed

To steam, place the spears in a steaming basket with a little water underneath. Cover and cook for three minutes.

3. Grilled

Asparagus loves to be grilled or sauteed in a pan – simply drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle a little sea salt, and turn occasionally. If you’ve got a barbecue going, lightly coat the spears in oil and cook on medium heat, turning often so the spears do not burn.

4. Roasted

Asparagus develops a lovely, rich flavour when roasted. Simply pre-heat the oven to 425°F, line a tray with foil or parchment paper, lay the asparagus spears onto the tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add a couple of garlic cloves and roast for 10 minutes. Delicious!

5. Raw

Don’t sleep on asparagus as a show stopped on your next veggie platter. After breaking off the woody bottom part of the spear you’re left with a tender and delicious vegetable that goes great with dip. This is probably my favourite way to enjoy asparagus and is a real show stopper when you have people over.

Asparagus Grilled with Parmesan

Delicious grilled asparagus with a parmesan crunch.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes

Course Side Dish

Servings 4 people



  • 1 lb fresh local asparagus
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • salt and pepper



  • Soak your asparagus to get the sand out and trim the bottoms. Lay the asparagus in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss in the olive oil.
  • Lay the asparagus on the grill in a row. Grill for 5-10 minutes over medium heat until they have char marks and are fork tender. 
  • Remove asparagus and place back in the pan. Toss with garlic and parmesan cheese and serve.

Keyword asparagus, parmesan