Asparagus

We love our spring greens and asparagus is no exception. It’s crisp, subtle in flavor, and simple to prepare.
In Montana, you can find green, white, purple, and even wild varieties.

In the Garden

Did you know that a well-managed asparagus bed can remain productive for up to 30 years? Newly planted asparagus can take a couple of years to get rolling but once it does, you will have new spears every spring! Asparagus appreciates moist soil and full sun. Plant your spears 6-8 inches deep and 12-18 inches in diameter. 

In Montana, harvest can start as early as late-April in some regions and last until the beginning of July.  After then, your spears will get tough and unpleasant to eat. It’s still important to tend to your plants and allow them to fully bloom post-harvest. The more energy that your asparagus plants can store during summer, the better your crop will be the following year!


In your Medicine Cabinet

Asparagus is rich in prebiotics. Not to be confused with probiotics, prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that your body can’t digest. These plant fibers pass through your system and feed the good bacteria in your gut, aiding in digestive health. Asparagus is also a great source of folate, antioxidants, and vitamins A and K.

On your Plate

We wanted to create a recipe to match the moody spring weather in Montana. This Asparagus Carbonara is equally refreshing and comforting. It’s humble yet impressive. It’s the perfect quick and easy comfort food for a late spring storm. It’s also lovely to enjoy outside on a warm day with a glass of wine and some friends. 

If you are not an asparagus aficionado, we’ve got you covered with some prep tips below:

Remove the tough woody stalks. The bottom portion of asparagus stalks are woody and tough. The good news is that this part is easy to remove. Just bend the asparagus spears and the woody portion will snap right off. 

Don’t overcook your spears. Both thick and thin stalks are best enjoyed al dente. Start checking your spears after 3 minutes of cooking and test them every few minutes until they are just fork tender. 

Season simply. Asparagus tastes best when dressed simply. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper should do the trick. Once it’s done cooking, top it with a little squeeze of lemon and some parmesan cheese.

Asparagus Carbonara

Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

You will need:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch asparagus (about ¾ lbs), sliced into ½ inch pieces
2 shallots, diced
12 oz pasta, spaghetti, tagliatelle, or fettuccine preferred
4 large egg yolks
1 cup parmesan, shredded
¾ cup reserved pasta water
½ Tbsp salt
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Directions:

1. Prepare your vegetables. Clean your asparagus spears and either cut or break off the woody ends. Slice your asparagus spears into about ½ inch pieces. Mince 2 small shallots.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add your shallots to the hot pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in your sliced asparagus and toss in the oil and shallots. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes or until the asparagus is a bright green. It should be slightly tender but still crisp. Remove from heat and set pan aside. Remove ½ cup of the asparagus from the pan and save it for garnish.

3. Cook pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in 1 Tbsp salt and add 12 oz of pasta. Cook according to the package instructions for al dente noodles. *Make sure to reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining. You will need the starchy water to make your sauce!

4. Mix egg yolks and parmesan. While your pasta is cooking, add your 4 egg yolks to a medium bowl. Mix your yolks and add in 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (fresh is best). Sprinkle in some fresh cracked pepper. This mixture will appear thick.

5. Assemble pasta. Immediately after the noodles are done cooking, add them to the pan with the asparagus and shallots. Working quickly, add in your egg mixture, ¼ cup of the reserved pasta water, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp lemon zest. Mix vigorously until the noodles are coated and the sauce is smooth and glossy. Add more reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen your sauce as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

6. Top your pasta with the reserved asparagus and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tracee Hume is a Bozeman-based Communications Coordinator for Abundant Montana. She loves making a mess in her kitchen, but doesn’t love cleaning it up. Send her your favorite recipes at [email protected]!

Abundant Montana is a Program of AERO (Alternative Energy Resources Organization), a 501(c)3 Non-Profit

Mailing address: PO Box 1558, Helena, MT 59624
Physical address: 32 S Ewing St #333, Helena, MT 59601