Quick & Easy Asparagus Benny

Sunday morning brunch is one of my favourite meals of the week. I typically have more time to prepare it than I do for a weeknight dinner, which makes for a more relaxed cooking experience. I also love to cook with a coffee in hand, music in the background, and morning sunshine streaming in through the windows. And this weekend, eggs benedict is on the menu! Except… not really. I’m making a sneaky, super quick & easy version. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Hollandaise sauce, but it’s not something I make on the regular. It’s pretty labour intensive, and very rich. In my quick & easy version, I swapped out the Hollandaise for a simple white sauce + Swiss Cheese. And I’m giving you options for the eggs — you can poach ‘em if you feel up to it, but a simple sunny-side-up will work just fine!

Most importantly, though, this eggs benedict features the spring veggie we’ve all been waiting for: asparagus! It pairs deliciously well with eggs, and the cheese sauce ties it all together perfectly. Choose whole wheat English muffins for an extra dose of fibre, and you’ve got yourself a tasty and balanced brunch. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Serves 6

Ingredients

6 whole wheat English muffins

12 eggs

2 bunches Thames River Melons Asparagus, washed & trimmed

2 tablespoons butter (plus more for buttering)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups milk

1 ½ cups Swiss cheese, shredded

6 slices deli ham, sliced in half (optional)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

Fresh parsley, minced, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash & trim the asparagus, then set aside.

  2. Begin to make your swiss cheese sauce: melt the butter over medium heat and cook until sizzling. Sprinkle the flour over top and mix together to form a thick paste. I like to use a rubber spatula for this step, to ensure I get into all the corners of the pot.

  3. Cook the butter-flour mixture for 1 – 2 minutes, until fully thickened. At this point I typically switch to a whisk. Next slowly add some of the milk, whisking constantly to combine. Add a little milk at a time, whisking until combined. Once all of the milk has been added, continue to whisk constantly.

  4. Continue to cook for 5 – 6 minutes. Watch the pan closely and monitor the heat. You want the sauce to heat at a slow and steady pace – too fast, and it will boil, which could cause the mixture to separate! You want a silky smooth sauce for this delicious breakfast.

  5. While the sauce cooks, prepare the asparagus. You can steam, sauté, or roast – any method will work! Cook until the asparagus is tender, but still holds its shape. Regardless of cooking method, this typically takes between 4 and 6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalk.

  6. The sauce should begin to thicken by now. Once it has, sprinkle in the shredded cheese, salt, and pepper, and whisk to combine. Once the cheese has melted, the sauce should be thickened and ready to eat! Reduce the heat to low and whisk occasionally as you continue to prepare the remaining ingredients.

  7. Toast the English muffins and cook the eggs. Again, how you cook the eggs is up to you! A traditional eggs benedict calls for poached eggs, but for this quick and easy recipe I would recommend a simple sunny side up. Alternatively, check out this handy guide to oven-poached eggs.

  8. Now, you are officially ready to assemble!

  9. Lightly butter each side of the English muffins, then top them with the ham (if using) and several stalks of the prepared asparagus. Next, add an egg to each half, and finish it off with a generous drizzle of the Swiss cheese sauce.

  10. Sprinkle with a pinch of fresh parsley, and you’re ready to eat! Enjoy.

Oven-Baked Asparagus Three Ways

Asparagus is one of my favourite veggies for so many reasons. Not only is it packed full of many essential vitamins and minerals and a great source of filling fiber, it also has an uncanny ability to pair well with a seemingly endless number of flavour combinations. These quick and easy recipes below are a perfect example of this versatility. No matter what food mood you’re in, asparagus can work for you!

These recipes also offer a great way to squeeze veggies into our busy schedules. Finding time for a well-rounded meal that the whole family will enjoy can be tough to do when you’re juggling work, school, extra-curricular activities, and more. Offering a variety of flavours means you can easily cater to personal preferences while still using just one baking dish. And what’s easier than a wash and toss recipe like this?! Wash and snap the asparagus, toss in the wet ingredients, and follow up with the dry. Give another toss, spread on the baking dish, then pop in the oven. Serve alongside a whole grain and a lean protein and voilà! Dinner is ready.

Give these combos a try and let us know what your favourite is.

From left to right: Lemony Goodness, Garlic & Ginger, Chili Lime

From left to right: Lemony Goodness, Garlic & Ginger, Chili Lime

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 5-8 minutes

Serves: 2-4

Flavour Combination Options

Lemony Goodness

1/3 bunch asparagus

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Chili Lime

1/3 bunch asparagus

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it real spicy!)

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 teaspoon chili powder

Garlic & Ginger

1/3 bunch asparagus

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried ginger

Pinch of sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400⁰F.

  2. Prep the asparagus: wash & snap off the ends.

  3. Choose your favourite flavours.

  4. Toss the asparagus with the liquid ingredients, followed by the dry.

  5. Spread prepared asparagus stalks evenly on a baking sheet (you can like the sheet with parchment paper for quicker cleanup).

  6. If using fresh lemon & limes, cut a few slices off and lay them on top of the asparagus for an extra punch of flavour and stunning presentation.

  7. Pop in the oven and bake for 5-8 minutes, watching closely.

  8. Serve alongside a whole grain and lean protein for the perfect weeknight meal.

  9. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

Asparagus & Italian-Spiced Grape Tomato Pasta Salad

Warm weather and pasta salad go hand in hand! It's a great option for a BBQ potluck, or the perfect make-ahead lunch. This recipe is overflowing with filling fiber thanks to the whole wheat pasta, asparagus, and beans. The beans also offer up a lean source of protein that will help keep you full and satisfied all afternoon long. The low-fat oil and vinegar dressing packs a serious flavour punch thanks to the addition of many herbs and spices. Feel free to play around with these and customize to your liking! Finally, this salad features an extra special ingredient: one of our newer preserves, Italian-Spiced Grape Tomatoes. I always find myself craving tomatoes this time of year, when there are still months between me and our freshly picked field-grown varieties. Fortunately, a jar of these little preserves is a wonderful placeholder. They are the perfect addition to this recipe, as they are pre-seasoned with even more herbs and spices. They are also nice and soft, and blend seamlessly into the salad.

Visit us on-farm or at a farmers’ market this week to stalk (get it?!) up on freshly-picked asparagus and other fresh produce and preserves. Mention this recipe to any of our staff, and get a special Mix & Match deal: 1 lb of asparagus and 1 jar of Italian-Spiced Grape Tomatoes for just $10!

Offer applies from today until end of asparagus season.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

2 cups whole wheat pasta noodles of your choice (macaroni works well!), dried

1 lb. asparagus, washed with ends trimmed

1 jar Thames River Melons Italian-Spiced Grape Tomatoes

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 can beans (black beans, chickpeas, or kidney beans) drained and rinsed

Dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ tablespoon mayonnaise

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon dehydrated onions

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Dash of salt

Dash of black pepper

Directions

  1. Wash the asparagus thoroughly, then trim the ends, as they are tough and not tasty to eat! Once washed, cook the asparagus using your favourite method. You could roast it (8 minutes in a 400⁰F oven), BBQ it (8 minutes on a hot grill), or steam it (5 minutes in a steamer). Any method will do!

  2. Next, cook the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Don't rinse the pasta, as this decreases its ability to soak up the dressing!

  3. Once the asparagus has cooked, cut the stalks into bite-sized chunks and add them to the bowl along with the cooked pasta.

  4. Next, open the jar of Italian-spiced grape tomatoes and drain most of the liquid. Toss the tomatoes and a small amount of the remaining liquid into the salad mixture of pasta & asparagus.

  5. Open the can of beans of your choice, drain and rinse them, then add to the growing salad mixture.

  6. Crumble the feta cheese and add this to the salad as well.

  7. Finally, prepare the dressing by vigorously whisking together the oil, vinegar, and mayonnaise (which acts as an emulsifier). Once mixed well, add the spices and whisk again.

  8. Drizzle the dressing over the pasta salad ingredients and toss the salad together.

  9. Serve right away or chill in the fridge overnight and serve the next day.

  10. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

Asparagus, Pepper, and Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

I created this recipe last week when it was feeling more like summertime.. Thankfully, it can be served warm & enjoyed on a blustery day like today, too! It's packed full of veggies, has great flavour thanks to all of the herbs in the oil & vinegar dressing, and is low in added salt & fats. Enjoy!

*Makes 4-6 servings

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups pasta, dry
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed
1 pepper in colour of choice, cut into 1” wedges
1 tbsp oil
Pepper to taste
¼ cup sliced sundried tomatoes
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dehydrated onions
½ tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:
Begin by roasting the vegetables. Preheat oven to 400°F. Next, place asparagus and pepper chunks in a baking dish, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, until veggies are beginning to soften but still firm. 


Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain in a colander and set aside in a large bowl. Don't rinse the pasta, as this decreases its ability to soak up the dressing! Next, prepare the dressing by vigorously whisking together the oil, vinegar, and mayonnaise (which acts as an emulsifier). Once mixed well, add the spices and whisk again. 


Once the vegetables have roasted, remove from oven. Cut asparagus stalks into bite sized chunks and add them, along with the roasted pepper chunks, to the cooked pasta. Also add the feta and sundried tomatoes. Drizzle the dressing over the pasta salad and toss together. Serve warm or chill in fridge overnight and serve the next day.

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD

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Asparagus & Green Garlic Flatbread

This flatbread recipe may look a bit lengthy, but it's oh-so-easy & delicious. If you're running short on time, feel free to use a store bought dough. The toppings are really flexible as well! Try swapping out the veggies for whatever you have on hand, or add some leftover roasted chicken or even a sunny-side-up egg for a boost of protein.

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
2 tbsp oil (canola, olive, or something similar)

Toppings:
½ lb asparagus
3 stalks green garlic
2 tbsp oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup softened goat cheese
Parmesan cheese to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional, if you want some heat!)

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly stir in milk and oil until a soft dough is formed. Once mixed, knead dough together approximately 10 times. Shape dough into a ball and let rest while toppings are prepped.

  • Wash and trim the asparagus. Next, wash and trim green garlic (remove long green leaves and roots), then slice the remaining white portion of the garlic in half, lengthwise. Place prepped asparagus and green garlic in a 9x13 baking dish. Pour oil over the vegetables and rub until completely covered. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and, if desired, the red pepper flakes.

  • Next, flatten the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Stretch dough into desired shape (round, rectangular, abstract – it’s up to you!), about ¼ inch thick. Poke holes in the dough.

  • Place both the prepped vegetables and the dough into the oven. This will allow the veggies to gently roast, and the dough to pre-bake a little before adding the toppings.

  • After 10 minutes, remove the veggies and the dough from the oven.

  • Carefully spread the goat cheese evenly across the dough using a spoon or rubber spatula. Arrange the roasted veggies on top of the goat cheese and finish by sprinkling with parmesan cheese.

  • Return the flatbread to the oven for an additional 10 minutes, until the parmesan cheese is melted.

  • Remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and slice for serving. Enjoy!

Recipe created by Alex Chesney, RD 

How to Store Asparagus

Did you know the best way to store asparagus is upright in water in the fridge? If you do this, your asparagus will keep for almost a week! We hear this question from customers all the time, and we want to make sure you get the most out of your purchase. Although, we really doubt you'll be able to resist it for that long!

Asparagus & Prosciutto Bundles

This is one of our favourite ways to enjoy asparagus! 

*Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
36 thin spears fresh Ontario Asparagus (about 1 bunch)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
12 thin slices prosciutto

Preparation:
Wash and break asparagus stalks where they snap easily; discard ends. Dry and toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bundle 3 spears together; wrap 1 piece of prosciutto around asparagus. Place bundles on greased grill over medium to medium-high heat; grill, turning occasionally, until asparagus is bright green and tender and prosciutto is crisp, about 5 minutes. Drizzle bundles with olive oil.