Amanda Stone: Feral asparagus is everywhere

·5 min read

May 18—That weird phenomenon where you just learn about something and then the thing keeps popping up everywhere has a name. The Baader-Meinhof effect is when your awareness of something increases. What a boring way to describe what feels like sorcery.

My favorite example is when I watched a movie about Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame. For weeks after, I heard their haunting song "God Only Knows" seemingly everywhere I went. It played on the radio, in grocery stores and in television shows. I told friends about it. It felt like black magic.

Nope. Just me taking notice of a lovely song in a movie and then being aware that it plays all the time everywhere. No sorcery or black magic involved. Not even a touch of it. Just the boring ol' Baader-Meinhof at play.

Asparagus is at the center of my most recent bout with this phenomenon. My dad mentioned he used to have a neighbor who would go off walking and come back with bags of wild asparagus. Smarty-farty naysayer that I am, I assured him asparagus did not grow wild.

A couple of days later, I was driving down the highway, and I spied with my own little eyes a man in the ditch snapping off stalks of asparagus. Then my own little clump of transplanted asparagus shot up a couple of tiny stalks for the first time. And I keep running across articles about "ditch asparagus." It's been a wild couple of weeks. All asparagus all the time.

One article referred to this rogue asparagus as "feral" rather than "wild." I really like that. This feral ditch asparagus escaped its cultivated European bounds centuries ago, growing wherever it darn well pleases all over the U.S. It likes plenty of moisture, hence the feral ditch asparagus. We're nearing the end of asparagus season, so keep your eyes to the ground.

Snap off some stalks alongside your favorite thoroughfare, or just visit one of our fine farmers markets for fresh asparagus. When you get it home, slice off the woody bottoms and put them in a jar with an inch of water like an asparagus bouquet. They'll stay fresh in the fridge for a good week, but then use them in these recipes.

Creamy asparagus and salmon pasta

* 1 pound bow tie pasta or farfalle

* 2 cups chopped asparagus spears cut into 1-inch pieces

* 2 cups heavy cream

* Zest of 2-3 lemons

* 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

* 1/8 cup chopped fresh dill fronds, plus more for garnish

* 2 cups flaked, cooked salmon

* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the bow tie pasta according to package directions until al denté. When noodles are done cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta to a colander, reserving the pasta cooking water in the pot. Reheat the pot of water over medium heat and add the chopped asparagus spears, cooking until they turn bright green, about 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to the same colander as the pasta. You want the asparagus to still have a snap but not taste raw.

While the pasta and asparagus are cooking, pour the cream into a 12-inch skillet and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook until reduced by half and the cream easily coats the back of a spoon. Add the lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, fresh dill and cooked salmon to the cream and stir until the Parmesan is melted into the cream and the salmon is warmed through. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the cooked bow tie pasta to the skillet and toss to coat. Add more salt and pepper if desired, and top with more Parmesan cheese and dill if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from

Coconut veggie rice bowls

* 1 cup jasmine rice

* 1 1/4 cup canned light coconut milk

* 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil

* 4 cups chopped veggies, cut to roughly the same size

* Salt and pepper, to taste

* 3 green onions, chopped

* 1 small avocado, sliced

* 1/3 cup fresh herbs like mint, basil or cilantro

* 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


* 1 tablespoon soy sauce

* 2 garlic cloves, minced

* 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

* 2 tablespoons water

* 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

* 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine the rice and coconut milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (still covered) for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Heat coconut or olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add veggies and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until veggies are fork tender and slightly browned (cooking times will vary based on the veggies you use). Add green onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients and whisk until sugar is dissolved. To serve, spoon rice and veggies into bowls. Add avocado, herbs and sesame seeds. Drizzle with dressing.

Recipe source:

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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