Celebrate spring, German-style with local asparagus

When it comes to asparagus, the German state of Baden-Württemberg and the province of Ontario have a lot in common. Both are major asparagus producers, and both boast a population that eagerly awaits the spring harvest.

Many German towns hold an annual Spargelfest, where locals crown an asparagus queen or king and eat lots of delicious dishes starring fresh green and white asparagus. This month, we’ve borrowed a few German favourites to celebrate our own tender stalks.

Ontario asparagus adds colour, crunch and flavour to Warm German Potato and Asparagus Salad, with its classic bacon, mustard and cider vinegar dressing. Prepare the potatoes and dressing in the morning and you will have this tasty dish on the dinner table in 10 minutes.

Grilling is one of the best and simplest ways to cook local asparagus. Serve homemade patties of ground pork and beef on a bun, top with grilled asparagus tips and a slice of Euro-style cheese and you have Bratwurst Asparagus Sliders.

While you’re standing at the Q, grill extra asparagus for tomorrow’s Black Forest Asparagus Panini. Layered with ham, cheese and mustard on Bavarian style dark rye, this grilled sandwich is a keeper!

For dessert, let’s fete another local spring treasure – rhubarb! Quark, a fresh German cheese, makes this easy Rhubarb Streusel Cake even more delicious.
No matter how you prepare them, Ontario asparagus and rhubarb are wunderbar!

RECIPES:

pota-aspar-salWarm German Potato and Asparagus Salad

3 cups (750 mL) peeled and cut into chunks Ontario Potatoes
4 slices Ontario Bacon
1 small Ontario Onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp (45 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (25 mL) water
1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
Pinch pepper

1 lb (500 g) Ontario Asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 2-inch (10 cm) pieces
Place potatoes in medium pot; cover with cold water. Bring to boil, cover and cook until fork tender, 10 to 15 minutes; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in large deep skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon, turning as needed, until crisp, 3 to 6 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess fat. Chop or crumble bacon, set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tbsp (25 mL) bacon fat from skillet. Add onion to skillet and cook over medium heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, water, mustard, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Add potatoes and asparagus and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp, about 3 minutes, transfer to serving platter. Top with crumbled bacon; serve warm.

Tip: Potatoes, bacon and onion dressing can be made ahead. Ten minutes before serving, finish by reheating the dressing and potatoes, then cooking the asparagus.

bratwurst-aspar-sliderBratwurst Asparagus Sliders

24 stalks Ontario Asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 small Ontario Onion, finely chopped
1 lb (500 g) each Ontario Lean Ground Pork and Ontario Lean Ground Beef
1 Ontario Egg
1/2 cup (125 mL) dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt, ground nutmeg, paprika and dry mustard
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each pepper, celery seeds and ground coriander
6 slices Ontario Swiss Cheese, halved
12 small burger buns

Remove top 2-inches (10 cm) of each asparagus spear, place asparagus tips in grill basket; set aside.

Finely chop half of the remaining asparagus stalks (reserve the remaining for another use). In medium skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat, add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add chopped asparagus and cook until asparagus is bright green and softened, about 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.

In large bowl, combine pork, beef, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, nutmeg, paprika, dry mustard, pepper, celery seeds, coriander, and cooled asparagus mixture. Form 1/3 cup (75 mL) mixture into small burger; repeat with remaining meat mixture.
Place grill basket on grill over medium heat. Grill asparagus 2 to 3 minutes, tossing frequently. Remove and set aside.

Place burgers on greased grill over medium heat. Grill until internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C), about 5 minutes per side. Top each burger with half slice of cheese. Close lid to melt cheese slightly.

To serve, place two asparagus tips on each cheese covered burger. Serve on buns with a variety of mustards and sauerkraut.

paniniBlack Forest Asparagus Panini

2 slices Bavarian style dark rye bread
1 tbsp (15 mL) grainy Dijon mustard
3 tbsp (45 mL) shredded Ontario Brick or Aged Cheddar Cheese
5 grilled Ontario Asparagus Spears
2 thin slices Ontario Black Forest Ham

Place rye bread on plate or work surface; spread mustard over the two slices. Layer one slice with 1-1/2 tbsp (22 mL) shredded cheese, asparagus spears, ham and remaining cheese. Top with remaining slice of bread, mustard side down.
Grill over medium heat until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes each side. Cut panini in half.

rhub-streusel-cakeRhubarb Streusel Cake

2-1/4 cups (550 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) quark or Ontario Sour Cream*
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
2 Ontario Eggs, lightly beaten
2-1/4 cups (550 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
4 cups (1 L) coarsely chopped Ontario Rhubarb
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp (15 mL) ground cinnamon
Topping: 35% Ontario Whipped Cream

Grease 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) glass baking dish. In large bowl, with wooden spoon, beat together 1-1/4 cups (300 mL) of the sugar, quark, water and eggs until smooth. Stir in 2 cups (500 mL) of the flour, baking soda and salt until smooth. Fold in 2-1/2 cups (625 mL) of the rhubarb. Pour batter into prepared dish; spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining rhubarb over batter.

In small bowl, with wooden spoon, beat the remaining sugar with butter until smooth. Stir in remaining flour until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over top of the cake; dust with cinnamon. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 minutes or until golden and tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

* Note: Substitute sour cream for the quark and reduce water to 1/4 cup (50 mL).

source: foodlandontario

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