Organic Asparagus Strata with Zesty Mediterranean Garnish

Serves: 6 to 8

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First-of-spring asparagus gets all dressed up with minimal effort in this beautiful dish. I love how the subtle, rich flavors of the strata are enlivened by the bright garnish. This is one to serve your special guests!

Ingredients

Strata

Zesty Mediterranean Garnish (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cut the tough ends off the asparagus spears. Place the potatoes in the bottom of a lightly buttered 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. Top with the grated cheese.

Place the asparagus spears in a criss-cross pattern on top of the cheese, pressing them down a bit. Combine the eggs with the milk, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the egg batter over the asparagus.

(Note: You may make this dish in individual oven-proof ramekins. Simply cut the asparagus a little shorter, divide the ingredients up between the ramekins and top with the egg batter.)

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden and puffy. Serve with the Mediterranean Garnish on the side. (Think of it as a kind of zesty salsa to be added to your taste!)

For Mediterranean Garnish

Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium high heat and cook the shallot and garlic for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and sauté until the asparagus is bright green and crisp tender, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Recipe by Lynne Vea, PCC Chef

Source: PCC Fresh April 2009

Lynne Vea

ABOUT OUR CHEF: Lynne Vea

Lynne Vea is a graduate of the Executive Chef Program at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and has been cooking with PCC Natural Markets since 2001. Featured on King-5’s "Gardening with Ciscoe," she demonstrates easy and delicious recipes using seasonal ingredients.

Lynne is an admired PCC Cooks instructor, teaching a variety of popular PCC Cooks classes throughout the year.

She loves to collect old cookbooks, hunt for wild berries, and cook seven-course dinners where the guests are encouraged to dance and cavort between courses.

Find more recipes from Lynne.

More about: asparagus, cheese, eggs, olives

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asparagus

When is asparagus the most tender?

The delicate stalks of asparagus are actually members of the lily family that grow into a rather stemmy and tough fern-like plant if the stalks are not harvested before branching.

Early in the harvest season, the stalks are slender and almost grass-like. As the season progresses, the young stalks will be thicker in girth but it is important to note, no less tender!

You may want to trim or peel the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stalk as the base of any growing plant tends to be a little tougher than the tip.

However, the overall tenderness in an asparagus stalk will remain largely the same as long as it is freshly harvested. Storage after harvest is what makes the stems woody and tough.

Here at PCC our local asparagus reaches our markets remarkably soon after harvest, so no matter what size the spears, you may be assured they will be succulent and perfect.

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