Ever since we broke ground on our first backyard garden in Baltimore I have wanted to plant asparagus. Asparagus, tender and crisp and one of the the first fleeting signs of spring, takes a prohibitively long time to cultivate as an apartment dweller. Over the years we’ve had gardens in front yards, back yards, pots, and on kitchen counters. We’ve grown herbs and vegetables and even tried our hand at small orchards in pots (all with varying degrees of success), but I’ve always yearned for a kitchen garden that I could make my own, that I could invest time and energy in over the course of years. Thankfully I have that opportunity now, in a yard that I can finally call my own.
I have big plans for the garden at our new house, but haven’t yet broken ground. But my dreams! They’re big! I’m thinking of building the beds in the front yard, since that gets the best consistent light. I want tomatoes, so many tomatoes, and peppers, garlic, and kale, and (of course) asparagus. I want a garden we can rotate throughout the seasons, something that can provide food for our table and a little peace for my mind.
Tonight’s dinner was borne of my spring fantasies. Spring has finally, gleefully sprung here in Wilmington. That azaleas have painted the town shades of pink, the dogwoods are in full bloom, and everything is coated in a thin layer of yellow pollen. The local farmer’s market opened this past weekend and with it came the first crops of berries and asparagus. The berries were gone the instant Everett got his hands on them but the asparagus made it’s way into dinner, lightly steamed with lemon and served over parmesan grits with buttery mushrooms and steak charred in a hot skillet.
Parmesan Grits with Asparagus & Charred Steak
2 cups stone ground yellow grits
6 cups water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sea salt
3 cups porcini mushrooms
3 tbsps butter
1 lb flat iron or skirt steak
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus a bit for sprinkling on top
Begin by making your grits. Combine grits, water, salt, and butter in a pot. Bring to a boil, stir well, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the grits are thick. Stir in parmesan and the juice from 1 lemon.
Clean and slice mushrooms and toss them in a pan with 1 tbsp butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. Set aside.
Keep the skillet hot and add another tbsp of butter. Place the steak in the hot skillet and top with a bit of sea salt. Cook 5 minutes on each side and then allow to rest for 5 minutes.
While the steak is resting, trim the asparagus and place in a stainless steel pan with 1/2 cup water and the juice of 1 lemon, over medium heat. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and tender.
Serve the grits piled high with sliced steak, mushrooms, and asparagus. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of parmesan.