I handed my son a tiny seed. Little fingers covered with dirt, carefully placed it in the groove and ever so gently. We repeated the process for a few minutes, until his interest faded and he eagerly moved on to opening the next packet of seeds, curiously exploring its contents.
The sun, warm on my skin, hands in dirt, gave me a sense of connection and pause. The process of preparing the soil, slowly breaking up large chunks while observing the life within it is humbling. Growing food used to intimidate me. I'm terrible with houseplants so I was sure this was going to be a flop the first time I tried it. But to my surprise, things grew.
I only have two raised beds, but they're a decent size and every year I go through the same feeling. Will this work? Will something actually grow? Seeing the first tiny shoots of green fighting its way through the soil is a beautiful sight.
Gardening enthusiasts may say I'm too early but I couldn't wait any longer. The weather finally looks to be on track with spring (this may come back and bite me) so despite my natural tendency, I'll be an optimist.
Though one vegetable that I'm crazy over but didn't plant is asparagus. Asparagus takes up its own plot year after year and I just don't have the space to dedicate to this lovely vegetable.
But while I didn't plant it myself, it is asparagus season. If you suddenly notice asparagus prices dropping at your grocery store or farmer's market, that's why. While most of us have access to it year round, I don't believe it ever tastes as delicious as it does when it's in season and hasn't had to travel thousands of miles to reach us. So for today's dish, I wanted to use asparagus.
I've been on a bit of a seafood kick lately, which is often the case in spring and summer. I find it easy to prepare and doesn't take long to cook. Shrimp is a particular favorite. I do have to insert the caveat that farm raised shrimp is probably one of the most unhealthy foods you can eat, so I highly recommend buying only wild caught.
But back to cooking. For this dish, I made a simple lemon oil, cooked the shrimp in shallots and garlic, and served it over top of cauliflower rice and a side of roasted asparagus. The secret to getting perfect asparagus every time, is 8 minutes. 8 minutes for roasting, 8 minutes for grilling. For some reason, this is the magic number for me. The asparagus is cooked perfectly with a bit of crunch.
For the cauliflower rice, you have a few options. You can make your own, buy already riced, or as was the case for me this time, go for organic, frozen and cook it in the micro. I'm not anti short-cuts as long as the outcome is the same. So I hope you enjoy this 20 minute, speedy and flavorful dish.
- prep time: 5 minutes
- cooking time: 15 minutes
- makes: 4 servings
- 2 small garlic cloves minced
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- zest of one lemon
- juice of half a lemon
- 7 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups cooked cauliflower rice
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 1 tbsp basil
- 1 tsp salt divided
- 3/4 tsp pepper, divided
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
- cast iron pan
- roasting pan
- aluminum foil
- small mixing bowl
Preheat oven to 400. In a small bowl, mix lemon zest with 4 tbsp olive oil.
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and add asparagus, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Coat asparagus and roast for 8 minutes on middle rack, turning once half way.
Preheat cast iron pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil along with chopped shallot and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add shrimp, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add lemon oil, lemon juice, cooked cauliflower rice and combine. Season with additional salt if you wish. Add in basil and parsley.5. Serve with roasted asparagus and additional herbs if you wish.