These spears are both edible and healthy
Before the internet and cable and satellite television, home cooks found out about new recipes, food products, growing and harvesting of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs by only a few sources.
Cooking and gardening books and magazines at a local bookstore (oh, the smell and feel of a real book’s pristine pages); shows featured on PBS; newspaper columns and featured articles; advice from friends, family and neighbors; or a shop which was dedicated to one or the other.
Now, by the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger across a screen, the world has become everyone’s oyster, or in my case, salmon and asparagus.
Facebook features pages and pages on the topics of cooking and gardening. Posts are constantly being shared and shared again, so it’s no wonder they pop up on a newsfeed.
One such post was about salmon and asparagus, baked together within an aluminum foil pouch. I have cooked with aluminum foil pouches before, but never considered the combination of these two ingredients.
Normally with salmon, I have seared it in a hot skillet and grilled it on a hot barbecue rack baked in an oven.
Typical seasonings or sauces would be teriyaki, butter, lemon, and dill – oh heavens, not all at the same time!
This new recipe did combine butter with lemon though, and I was curious as to how that would turn out – a sort of piccata perhaps?
Then there was cooking the asparagus with the salmon. How would these two distinct ingredients influence each other?
When it comes to asparagus, adding it as a main ingredient to quiche is a favorite. Sautéing it with butter and toasted almonds makes a delicious side dish or a main dish when featured in a savory omelet.
Then it happened, an advertisement appeared for Muhlestein Greenhouse (217 East 300 South, Monticello, UT 84535, 435-587-2704) for asparagus crowns at only $2 each!
How appropriate that I was attempting a new asparagus-related recipe and looking to start a new vegetable garden this year as well.
Asparagus, tall and usually green (there are also white and purple varieties), a bit woody at the base, and so tender to eat when picked early.
The spears are actually the leaves of the plant and become more fibrous as they are left to grow. The spacedout triangular sections which look like leaves eventually grow out lovely feather-like branches that will flower.
Pollen-bearing flowers are male while fruit-bearing are female, but the crown is how this vegetable becomes king or queen.
Underground, the root system can spread up to six feet; above ground is three feet, so plant those crowns with room to spare.
Asparagus loves sunlight (eight hours a day) and well-drained soil, so pick an area in the garden that will obtain both.
Regular watering is one to two inches of water per week during its first two growing seasons – older plants about one inch per week. Dappled sunlight will still allow growth, but it won’t be as profuse as with full sunlight.
There are many health benefits to asparagus: It’s low in calories; nutrient rich in fiber, folate, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K; weight loss; improved digestion; healthy pregnancy outcomes; and lower blood pressure.
Unless allergic, a person could eat asparagus on a daily basis, however, there is a foul side effect to doing that. The creation of asparagusic acid occurs within 15-30 minutes after consumption.
As the digestive process continues, sulfur compounds are released, then expelled during urination.
So, the usual rule of thumb that applies to this vegetable as well is “eat within moderation” – or wear a gas mask while peeing.
Now to the recipe, which was easy to make, and a new side dish was born from it as well.
My husband thought it was quite delicious, and enjoyed the combination of vegetable stock, garlic, butter and lemon. Me? Not so much.
I believe it was the garlic that turned me off. Don’t go by our likes or dislikes though. Try it out. It’s your pallet, so create!
The use of the aluminum foil was a typical Reynold’s Wrap commercial: easy with minimal cleanup.
Ah, timing. Cooked together 15 minutes, at 425F will give a fully-cooked and moist salmon portion; the asparagus will be tender, yet still maintain a slight bite, aka al dente.
However, if cooking the asparagus alone, ten minutes for al dente; 15 minutes will make the spears very soft. Now, the very soft version is not a bad thing, especially if you want to create a “nest.” Place a cooked protein within, and voila! Haute cuisine!
Another hint to make this dish more “wow”: instead of using broth, use Knorr Concentrated Stock. Each container equals the two tablespoons needed. The hot sauce in the recipe? Definitely optional.
Baked Salmon in Foil with Asparagus and Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce:
(Visit the Homemade Recipes Facebook group by Easy Tasty Recipes.)
Ingredients: 2 salmon fillets; 2 tablespoons vegetable broth or chicken broth; 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste; 1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce; 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves); Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste; 3-4 tablespoons butter, diced into small cubes (or ghee); 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro; 1 lb. (450g) medium-thick asparagus, woody ends trimmed
To prepare the oven-baked salmon in foil packs: Preheat your oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Cut 2 sheets of 14 by 12-inch (35 x 30 cm) heavy-duty aluminum foil then lay each piece separately on the countertop. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the garlic butter sauce: broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce.
Season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and divide salmon onto the aluminum foil near the center, then place trimmed asparagus to one side of the salmon, following the long direction of the foil.
You can adjust salmon fillets seasoning with more salt and pepper, then sprinkle garlic on top. Drizzle the garlic butter sauce generously over the salmon fillets and asparagus.
Divide butter pieces evenly among the foil packets, layering them over the salmon fillet and asparagus.
Wrap salmon foil packets in and crimp edges together then wrap ends up. Don’t wrap too tight – keep a little extra space inside for heat to circulate.
Transfer the salmon foil packs to a baking sheet and bake salmon in the oven, sealed side upward until salmon has cooked through, about 9-12 minutes.
Carefully unwrap the baked salmon in foil packets then drizzle with more lemon juice and garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and a slice of lemon.
…And my side dish:
Asparagus Side Dish Only (Perfect with Teriyaki Salmon too!)
Ingredients: 1 lb. asparagus, woody ends trimmed; 2 tablespoons vegetable broth or chicken broth (or Knorr concentrated stock, 1 container); 2 Tbsp. butter; 1 Tbsp. minced garlic; ¼ tsp. ground black pepper; 1 tsp. lemon juice
Preheat oven to 425F.
Place long sheet (double length of asparagus) aluminum foil onto pan. Place asparagus long ways on sheet. Put broth, butter, garlic and pepper into small bowl; microwave for 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Pour over asparagus.
Fold foil over asparagus and seal sides. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or 15 minutes for al dente.
Remove from foil; place on serving platter.
Makes 4 servings.
Option: French green beans, aka Haricots Verts