Bright green asparagus stalks poking out of the ground — one of the quintessential signs of spring!
Mill City Farmers Market farmer Nor Yeng Chang and his wife, Che, look for those crisp green stalks every May as they prepare for the start of the farmers market season. Nor Yeng and Che were the first farmers to call asking to be a part of the Mill City Farmers Market in 2006 when the market, located in between the Guthrie Theater and the Mill City Museum, first opened.
As they planned their crops for the spring, they wanted to be sure that they had enough product for this new market, focused on local, sustainable and organic agriculture. Nor Yeng and Che first moved to the United States from Laos in 1980. They originally lived in Green Bay, Wis., and grew cucumbers for a local pickle company. When they moved to Minnesota they started their own farm in the St. Paul area, growing quite a bit more than cucumbers.
At their booth you’ll find rare Asian greens like Malabar spinach, beautiful fresh herbs, juicy red and yellow raspberries, and of course asparagus. Nor Yeng and Che grow all of their crops naturally, weeding by hand and fertilizing without synthetic chemicals. Despite the hard frost in early May that killed thousands of pounds of asparagus across the state, Nor Yeng and the Market’s other farmers still have lots of new crops sprouting out of the ground. Support your local farmers and pick up some fresh asparagus from the Mill City Farmers Market this Saturday! The market is located in the Mill District at 704 S. 2nd St. and is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Looking for a fresh way to cook asparagus? Market Chef Jenny Breen created the following recipe for “Asparagus with Citrus and Olive Marinade” for the Mill City Farmers Market’s free weekly cooking class, Mill City Cooks. Join the class, located in the market’s train shed patio at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday to learn creative and easy ways to cook healthy, local recipes! Find more information about the cooking class and other market events at millcityfarmersmarket.org.
Asparagus with Citrus and Olive Marinade
2 pounds asparagus, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup water
½ red onion, sliced thinly
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup champagne or other light vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cloves garlic or 1 small bunch of ramps, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced or 2 teaspoons dried
2 very ripe navel oranges or tangerines peeled, with seeds removed, and roughly chopped with juice
1 cup olives, pitted and chopped
Prepare the marinade by combining the lemon juice, honey, ¼ cup olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and thyme and whisk well. Add oranges and juice, and olives, mix and set aside.
Trim asparagus by breaking gently at bottom third of stalks. Brush/coat asparagus and onions with oil and cook on a hot grill until tender. Cool slightly and cover with marinade
Chill for up to 4 hours.