asparagus and baby red onions (real food)

summary: two seasonal vegetables barbecued together: asparagus and baby red onions; rave about our weekly farmers’ market; information about “Two For Tuesdays! (real food)” and roquette; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

asparagus Every Monday evening, we have the most wonderful weekly farmers’ market set up just a block away. I love going there to see the neighbourhood milling around, tasting samples and filling their cloth bags and baskets with things grown nearby. (There are a couple of vendors who are selling things that come from very far away too. I’m not quite sure how they manage to define themselves as “local” but there it is…. Perhaps it’s because they live nearby. :lalala: But enough vague grousing.)

Last week, we got the most fabulous goat’s cheese from Montforte (we’re SO glad they have returned this year after a year’s absence!). And as we were strolling away from the Montforte table, we noticed that one fellow nearby was selling bunches of baby red onions. I’m not positive, but I believe they were the onions he had thinned and that we can expect full grown red onions later this summer.

We already had bought asparagus (Ontario, of course) but we really couldn’t resist getting the onions too. They were too beautiful.

red onions Just before dinner, after washing the asparagus well and leaving it to soak in water for about half an hour to make sure all the sand fell to the bottom of the bowl, we sliced the onions in half. We drizzled both asparagus and onions with olive oil. And then into the barbecue wok they went to get beautifully caramelized. Just before serving them (with barbecued chicken and oven roasted potatoes), we drizzled the asparagus and onions with balsamic vinegar, added a little seasalt, a good shot of black pepper and garnished them with fresh thyme leaves.

Thyme leaves from the garden, naturally.

I LOVE summer!!

Two for Tuesdays - Eat Real Food

Two for Tuesdays!
Eat Real Food

This event was created by Alex (A Moderate Life) with the idea that each “Two for Tuesday” post would contain two things (two recipes, two links, two variations on a theme… as long as it’s about real food. Heather (girlichef), Beth ( and Michelle (Health Food Lover) have joined forces to co-host the event. Heather wrote:

REAL food is homemade. REAL food is from scratch. REAL food has recognizable ingredients. REAL food is made from traditional ingredients. REAL food is food you make with your own hands. -Heather (girlichef), “Extra! Extra! Read all About It! Announcing… TWO for TUESDAYS!”

For complete details in how to participate in “Two for Tuesdays!” please read the following:

No big surprise that I’m not the only Two for Tuesdayer to be raving about the farmers’ market.

While at the farmer’s market this past weekend, I ran into some wonderful treasures!! -Heather (girlichef), “Farmer’s Market Treasures for Two for Tuesdays!!”


The same fellow was selling red onions again this week – along with scapes – but said that this was the last week. Next week, he’ll have regular white baby onions. And the following week, he will have Spanish baby onions. Whoohoo!!! That will be really interesting to try! I strolled on over to Montforte to learn that they had sold out of their goat’s cheese by the time I got there (note to self: arrive earlier…). To comfort myself, I got some beautiful mixed greens from a young guy who has planted roquette as well as lots of other interesting lettuces. I loved that he was so matter-of-fact to another buyer about the little holes in the roquette. His explanation: “We’re having a lot of trouble with flea beatles.” His expression made it quite clear that the holes didn’t matter.

edit 23 June 2010: I thought it might be useful to have a little bit more information about roquette attached to this post:

Roquette (Eruca sativa)

This ancient salad green, a relative of mustard, is also known as

  • Arugula
  • Rocket
  • Rucola
  • Salad Rocket

It is high in vitamins A and C. But frankly, I don’t particularly care that it’s good for me. I just love the way it tastes. Slightly bitter with a little burst of heat – very short lived – not lingering the way that chilli heat does. It’s listed under ‘Hot Greens’ in “The Harrowsmith Salad Garden”.

According to anything I’ve read, roquette is easy to grow, and will grow in shade or sun. It prefers cooler weather so plant it in the spring and fall. I have grown it but like coriander, it bolts very quickly. It is also susceptible to the flea beetle. But who cares about a few little holes in the leaves? The wonderful flavour is still there.

» Rocket is […] a native of southern Europe and was brought to Britain in the sixteenth century. It was very popular in Britain in Elizabethan times […] The young leaves have a warm peppery flavour, and are delicious in mixed salads. They are also good eaten alone, dressed with oil and vinegar. To grow: Rocket is easily grown from seed. […] If allowed to become dry, the leaves will become rank and sour. Frequent picking encourages new leaf growth.

– Arabella Boxer, Jocasta Innes, Charlotte Parry-Crooke, Lewis Esson, A Culinary Guide to Herbs, Spices and Flavourings, p. 145

» The peppery green is also sometimes known as Italian cress […] For centuries, however, arugula has com eto the table as rocket, pornounced not like a spaceship but like its French name, “roquette”. Rocket may not be as romantic or exotic a name as arugula, but it is evocative of both the taste and the growth habit of this salad plant: it shoots up fast, provides a bust of scrumptious greens, then before you know it, is over. Its flavour has a similar trajectory, moving quickly past sweet and spicy to unbearably hot. Its name alone should remind you to taste this little green before you add it to a salad.

– Turid Forsyth and Simonds Mohr, The Harrowsmith Salad Garden, p. 40

» An absurdly easy salad herb to grow, it is hardy even into the Far North. Seeds of this cabbage cousin are sown in October or November – small seedlings survive the winter – or first thing in spring. Within a month after a spring seeding, leaves are ready to pick. But note – roquette is a favourite forage for flea beetles. […] Toss the leaves with other early salad fixings, or use roquette as a watercress substitute in stir-fired dishes; add leaves to soup, or cream them like spinach.

– Patrick Lima, The Harrowsmith Illustrated Book of Herbs, p. 72

I planted roquette in the sprout section of my bird feeder planter but alas, none of the seeds sprouted. And I have planted it in the past but I’m guessing our garden is just too shady and we have only ever been able to harvest a few leaves at most.

Goodness how sad. As well as in salad, I adore roquette in a hamburger.


* asparagus To trim the asparagus, rather than breaking it in half, use a sharp knife to cut away the tough part of the asparagus. Starting at the blunt end of the asparagus spear, gently tap against the spear with the sharp part of the blade until the knife wants to cut through. I hope that made sense!! (We learned this from Laura Calder’s TV show “French Food at Home” and are forever indebted to her because now we get to eat more of the asparagus that we buy.)

last week’s Two for Tuesday (Real Food) post: fully dressed scones

This entry was posted in crossblogging, food & drink, HnS:RF, BP, various other events, vegetables on by .

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3 responses to “asparagus and baby red onions (real food)

  1. girlichef

    The ultimate in summer freshness…sounds awesome! I’ve never heard of roquette (is it like rocket, only the French pronunc??…I just thought of that while saying it out loud)…yes, I do love summer :-) Thanks so much for bringing this to Two for Tuesdays this week!

    Yes, just like rocket, Heather. It’s also called arugula. -Elizabeth (edit: I just added some information about roquette to the main body of the post. Heh – making it a Three for Tuesdays post. :whoohoo:

  2. katie

    How wonnderful to have a market that close. The evening markets will start in our area in another few weeks. Maybe we’ll even get out to see them this year! Last summer slipped by before we had a chance. I get into the courgette – chard – green bean – tomato glut from the garden and tend to forget about other things. Those red onions must have been wonderful.

    It would be more wonderful to have a garden like yours, Katie! And yes, the red onions were delightful. I highly recommend that you plant way too many next year so you can do something similar with the ones that you thin. -Elizabeth

  3. Bethany

    Thanks for joining Two for Tuesday again this week! Your farmers market sounds wonderful! I loved the info on arugula – thanks for sharing all that! I honestly didn’t like arugula before I got pregnant, but then I started craving it and LOVE it now. I put it in all sorts of things besides salad – on top of pizza, in sandwiches, chopped up and mixed with rice or scrambled eggs, or as a bed for meat or poached eggs, etc, etc. oh the lovely arugula! I think I’m going to have to go eat some now ;)

    It’s interesting how our tastes change, isn’t it, Bethany? I find that I far prefer the bitter and peppery greens to sweet ones now. Spinach is nice but rapini, roquette, radish greens are so much more thrilling. -Elizabeth


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