Asparagus, Lemon and Wild Rice Salad

Asparagus Salad

Asparagus has often been praised as one of the most refined and delicious vegetables.  Asparagus is a member of the lily family and a distant relative of onions. The cultivars range in colour from dark to light green through to violet and white. White asparagus have a milder flavour than the green asparagus and are more popular in Europe. In it’s growing stages, the stems are heaped with sandy soil to block out sunlight, preventing the chlorophyll to develop. The purple asparagus, less fibrous and higher in sugar is becoming more available at specialty food markets.

Asparagus botanical name “Asparagus Officinalis” meansfrom the dispensery“. It was a favourite among the Romans for it’s medicinal virtues and was used as a diuretic and a laxative. It was also thought to help with toothache, cramps and sciatica. Asparagus contains asparagine, an essential amino acid and the first to be isolated from it’s natural source early in the nineteenth century. Asparagine is also a diuretic that gives the urine a characteristic odor in people who lack the gene to break it down. This was first recorded in eighteenth-century Britain by Queen Anne’s physician!

Asparagus Growing

Asparagus Growing

Asparagus has remarkable immune-strengthening, antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties due to the bioflavonoids rutin and glutathione. It is high in protein, an excellent source of potassium, vitamin K, folic acid, vitamins C and A, riboflavin, thiamine, and B6.

In traditional Chinese medicine, asparagus are said to be a cooling yin tonic that energizes the kidneys, lungs and spleen. It also helps to dispel heat, damp and water.

In Ayurvedic, Asian asparagus are used for strengthening female hormones, promoting fertility, increasing lactation, and relieving menstrual pain. ~Shatavari is the Indian name and it means : she who possesses a hundred husbands.

The young stems of asparagus are preferably steamed, grilled or quickly boiled and served with butter, vinaigrette or hollandaise sauce. Asparagus pairs well with goat cheese, parmesan and pecorino cheeses, chervil, omelets, lemon, olive oil, shallots, pancetta, tarragon, and, white wine.



Asparagus, Lemon and Wild Rice Salad

This salad is a great way to signal that spring is here. The mung beans, wild rice and asparagus create a flavour that is both earthy and delicate while the lemon zest enliven the dish. Wild rice is very high in protein, minerals, and B vitamins.  The small khaki Mung beans are the perfect beans for Spring; easily digestible, they are beneficial for the liver and gall bladder and detoxifies the body.


  • 1 pound asparagus

  • 2 cups steamed wild rice ~I used a blend of red rice, quinoa and wild rice

  • 1 cup cooked mung beans~ you can cook the mung beans with the rice, add a little more water

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest


  • 3 tablespoon finally chopped green onions or spring onions

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • Unrefined sea salt

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Making the dressing:

Whisk together green onion, lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl; season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until emulsified. Set aside.

Making the salad:

1.Snap of the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut the asparagus into 2 inch long pieces. Drop them into boiling salted water and cook for 1 minute, or until bright green and tender but still a bit firm. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

2.Combine the asparagus, wild rice, parsley, mung beans, and lemon zest in a large bowl.

3.Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.Adjust salt and pepper.

4.Line a serving platter with greens and put the rice salad on top.

Creamy Roasted Rhubarb with Maple Syrup

roasted rhubarb

Roasted Rhubarb with Maple Syrup

Once again we shall

See the snow melt

Taste the flowing sap

Touch the budding seeds.

Smell the whitening flowers

Know the renewal of life.

~From an Anishnabeg (Ojibway) thanksgiving for spring.


Rhubarb has been  grown for a long time in Asia as a medicinal plant. It originated from Siberia or Tibet and its Latin name signify barbaric roots. It is likely due to it’s infamous name that was not used in cuisine until the early 1800s. Today, there are two main species grown for culinary usage,  Rheum Rhabarbarum and Rheum Rhaponticum.

Even if rhubarb is a vegetable, it is almost always used as a fruit to make pies, jams and compotes. Rhubarb may be harvested in the spring or fall but in the  spring the quality is at its best. It is appreciated for its acidulous taste and the tannin that makes your mouth pucker up. Only the stalks are eaten and you should never eat the leaves; they have been associated with cases of poisoning due to their high concentration of oxalic acid.

Rhubarb is rich in potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and in vitamin C and A. It is said to be astringent, laxative and purgative.

In  Chinese medicine it is used as a cooling food to remove toxins and heat and helps blood circulation.

It also reduces vata when use a little at a time.


Rhubarb under the sun

Creamy Roasted Rhubarb with Maple Syrup.

  • 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed and roughly chopped

  •  2 teaspoon unsalted butter

  • Maple syrup

  • Plain or vanilla yogurt

  • Fresh mint

Preheat the oven at 400 f. Place the rhubarb in a lightly buttered roasting pan, drizzled with maple syrup, and toss well. Roast for 15 to 2o minutes until tender. Place the rhubarb and juices in a bowl, drizzle with maple syrup and let cool completely.

Serve over yogurt with fresh mint, or add to a smoothie with blueberries, orange juice, roasted rhubarb and cinnamon.

Spring Nettle Soup

nettle soup

Nettle Soup

Tender-handed stroke a nettle

And it stings you for your pains;

Grasp it like a man of mettle,

And it soft as silk remains

 From the nettle’s lesson. Proverb, 1753.

Nettles (Urtica Dioica) are worth searching for; used throughout the world to build vitality, they are delicious and once cooked they have a delicate flavour and a pleasant texture. I always look forward to finding the first young nettles of spring to make soup, infusion or pesto; it’s a great way to mark the start of the growing year.

Nettle tops are best gathered- carefully- before they set flowers,  nettle stings causes temporary burning and irritation so make sure to wear gloves. Avoid nettles close to roadsides and select only the fresh, young top growth. If nettle doesn’t grow where you live, you may find them at farmer’s market. Nettles lose their sting once chopped, dried, or cooked.


Fresh Nettle

The nettle is a perennial plant full of iron, calcium, magnesium and nitrogen, which makes it incredibly nutritious for both plants and humans.They also increase circulation and provides external treatment for arthritic pain, gout, sciatica and neuralgia. Rich in minerals, they increase the hemoglobin in the blood, purify the system and have a generally toning effect on the whole body.

According to Chinese medicine, nettles are a yin and blood tonic that support the bladder, kidney, spleen, and liver. They also have diuretic properties and enrich the blood, thicken the hair and may help reduce blood sugar levels. Nettles reduce pitta and kapha and can be used, in moderation, by vata.

Cooking Nettles

Cooking Nettles


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, cut in half

  • 1 large potato, diced

  • 2 cups blanched chopped nettles (if you can’t find nettles you can substitute them for more watercress, sorrel or chard)

  • 1 cup parsley

  • 1 cup radish greens, chopped

  • 2 cups watercress

  • 2 cups arugula or spinach

  • 2 cups vegetable broth

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Few stems of fresh marjoram or oregano

  • 1 inch stick kombu seaweed (optional)

  • Crème fraîche, chive blossoms or sweet violet for garnish.

1.Warm the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat for several minutes until the onion is soft.

2.Add the potatoes and all the greens. Cook until the greens are wilted. Add the vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon salt and kombu.

3.Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft.

4.Cool lightly, remove the marjoram or oregano and pour into a food processor and purée until smooth.

5.Adjust salt and add freshly ground pepper. Serve with crème fraîche and decorate with sweet violet or chive blossoms.