Asparagus

In our garden, asparagus kicks off the edibles’ season. Only herbs like chives and mint beat it to the mark. With these perennials, there’s minimal work involved once the plants are established. Simply wait for them to start popping out of the ground, and you know it’s time to get to work in the rest of your beds.

Hands down, my favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled. It’s so easy to prepare and is a fabulous accompaniment to anything else you would throw on the grill. It also works beautifully on pasta, in risotto, or over salad greens. We often gobble it all up fresh, saving only a little for refrigerator-pickled asparagus, but sometimes we can’t keep up and the spears get tough. It’s a perfect excuse to turn those spears into a puree that can be used to flavor sauces, soups, and rice dishes after the plants have stopped producing.
Learn to grill asparagus and make Asparagus Puree

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s (aka the Garden)

It’s early May, and the growing season looks so promising: You’ve weeded beds, added compost, and attached hoses. You’re buying starts and scattering seeds. Your garden looks neat and orderly, the rain’s handling your watering, and after winter’s gray you’re thrilled by the first daff blossoms and garlic shoots.

Fast-forward to late July, and it’s a different story. Your garden has exploded, or perhaps imploded. Weeds threaten to outpace desirables in every corner. Early plants have gone bitterly to seed, and late ones are suffering heatstroke. One day your basil gets a sunburn; to compensate, you overwater and drown your tomatoes. You’ve got 6 activities crammed into every weekend, and your planned garden-fresh dinner is supplanted by takeout. You look out the window, afraid to go deeper into your neglected garden. Why did you do this again? Here’s my secret to enjoying this personal jungle.
Read more about my secret to enjoying this personal jungle

Hummus

Hummus, to my mind, is like applesauce: store-bought versions are no substitute for the real deal. Fortunately, the two have many other similarities. Both are incredibly easy to make. Both only require a few, easily obtainable ingredients. And particularly when made at home, both are not just good eating but good to eat.

Although few people get excited about applesauce these days, hummus remains hugely popular. Anecdotally, I know this because I get more requests for made-from-scratch hummus than any other creation at Twice as Tasty catered events. Neil Irwin of the New York Times supports this view by ranking hummus among “foods that have generally had staying power.” When you combine it with homegrown veg or Sourdough Pita Chips and flavor it with roasted garlic, hummus is guaranteed to fly off the table.
Learn to roast garlic and make Roasted-Garlic Hummus

Chowders

I’m a fan of thick, hearty soups. Although I make miso or hot and sour soup when I’m down with a bug, I gravitate toward soups that you know are filling just by looking in the pot.

Last week, I mentioned a range of thickeners that can be added to the pot. My favorites are flour-and-butter roux, as in 30-Minute Cherry Tomato Soup. and potatoes. Potatoes have the advantage of acting as both main ingredient and thickener and can be the prominent—or even the primary—ingredient; they can be added to the pot precooked or raw. Like tomatoes, potatoes are mostly water, but the portion that is solid is almost entirely starch. As you heat potatoes, the starch softens, expands, and gels, making the soup more viscous. Keep this in mind when you’re preparing a potato-thickened soup: Potato starch gels at a lower temperature than flour. The result is a far thicker soup. Learn to make Hearty Corn Chowder and Boozy Potato Chowder