Asparagus Three Ways

by Marcelo Najarro, Executive Chef, 10 Acres at The Pier | photo by Dominic Hall Photography – 

Asparagus season runs from late March to June. It can be found at the grocery store all year round, but it’s during these months that asparagus can be sourced locally and when it is most flavourful. Asparagus stands as a beacon of versatility in the realm of culinary delights. Its slender spears lend themselves to an array of cooking methods, from simple steaming to indulgent grilling, sautéing, roasting and even pickling. Whether featured as a star ingredient in a creamy risotto, tossed into a crisp salad or elegantly wrapped in prosciutto for a gourmet appetizer, asparagus adapts effortlessly to various cuisines and flavour profiles. It seamlessly complements a spectrum of other ingredients, from seafood to poultry, pasta to eggs, offering a harmonious balance of texture and taste. Asparagus not only shines in savoury dishes but also surprises palates when incorporated into inventive desserts or blended into creamy soups. Its versatility knows no bounds, making it a staple in kitchens worldwide and a cherished ingredient for culinary exploration.

Asparagus Quiche (serves 2)

  • 1 ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup 2% milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • ¼ cup chopped asparagus (1-3 spears, depending on size)
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Store-bought crust or pastry shell, or homemade quiche crust


  1. In a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs, milk, heavy cream, salt and pepper together until completely combined. Alternatively, use an electric mixer to do this job to make it easy and smoother for yourself! Let sit for 10 minutes then mix in add-ins and then pour into the crust.
  2. Bake the quiche until the centre is just about set, about 45-55 minutes. Don’t over-bake. If your oven tends to bake hot from the top you can Google how to make a pie crust shield to protect the pastry from burning. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before digging in! But you can always cool the quiche completely before serving—it’s fantastic at room temperature!



Asparagus risotto (serves 4)

  • 4 spears fresh asparagus
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup chicken or veg stock + 4 cups
  • 1/8 cup grated or shaved parmesan
  • 6 leaves of basil
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp + olive oil
  • 1/4 cup leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a fresh lemon


  1. Cut ends off the asparagus at the bottom where it feels fibrous. (You can tell where this is by breaking an end off with your fingers, usually about an inch from the bottom, and using this as a guide, cut the rest to match. Toss out all the fibrous ends.) Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces, keeping the nice tops separate. Measure 1 cup of cut asparagus to use for our sauce later on, and set aside the rest for cooking into the risotto.
  2.  In a pot of SALTED boiling water, add the 1 cup of asparagus for our sauce, cook briefly until tender and bright green (3-5 minutes depending on size). Drain and add to the blender with 1 cup of stock, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the basil leaves. Blend until smooth. Set this aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a thicker-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until softened, and with a light fragrance (5-6 minutes). Add garlic and salt lightly, cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Do not let your vegetables get brown at this point.
  4. Add arborio rice and stir to coat in the oil in the pot. Do this for one minute. Add white wine and cook the wine away. Add 1 cup hot stock. Bring to a gentle simmer over med-low heat, stirring occasionally, letting the rice absorb all the broth. I suggest not covering this and not stirring too long at a time, to avoid mushy risotto.
  5. Continue adding the hot stock 1 cup at a time, letting the rice absorb it slowly, each time, stirring. At the same time that you add the last cup of stock, add the pile of asparagus with the tips, letting them cook in the risotto. Your rice should be creamy yet not mushy.
  6. Once the stock is absorbed into the rice and rice feels cooked when you eat a piece, stir in blended asparagus-basil “sauce,” add salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and butter. Stir gently over low heat, letting it thicken a bit if you like, but taking care not to cook too long here, or you’ll lose the colour and fresh taste.
  7. Serve warm and top with parmesan.



Asparagus Salad (serves 2)

  • 2 cups blanched asparagus slices
  • 1” size, cut pickled asparagus (store bought is OK or google a quick pickle recipe)
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • parmesan vinaigrette (or a store bought balsamic vinaigrette is great)
  • 1 small fennel, fronds removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 radish, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds, toasted and crumbled


Parmesan Vinaigrette

  • 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 7 tbsp finely grated parmesan (real is best)
  • 3 black anchovies
  • 1/2 lemon zested + juice of 1 whole lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped shallot
  • 4 parsley stems, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp capers (no juice)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste


Blend all ingredients in blender except for oil. Slowly add oil while blender runs to create an emulsion.


Blanched asparagus

Blanch asparagus in salted boiling water. Have ice with water prepared beforehand. It is key to blanch for a maximum of 30 seconds – the moment they are bright green place, put them into the ice bath. The goal of blanching is for colour and crunch, not to cook. Remove from ice bath and allow time to drain before mixing salad. Slice down middle lengthwise to create bite-size pieces.

With your knife or a mandolin slice the fennel into very thin pieces. Be sure to remove the core solid root – then slice as thin as possible. Do the same with the red radish pieces.

Toss drained asparagus slices, pickled pieces, add shaved fennel, arugula handful, parmesan and dressing together.

Garnish plate with radish slices, parmesan and almond crumbles. Enjoy!

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