If you find yourself traveling down Sagg Main Street in Sagaponack, past the acres of vegetable and potato fields of Foster Farm, you will spot a charming, hand-painted sign announcing the arrival of asparagus at Marilee’s Farm Stand. You’ll find them grouped with a simple rubber band in a tin-ware bowl kept company with some local, early spinach and bright red radishes.
“I’ve had asparagus since ’96,” says farmer, writer and artist Marilee Foster, who grew up on the sixth generation Sagaponack potato farm and has her own 10 acres dedicated to various vegetables that she sells.
“We start on the South Fork about 10 days later than the North Fork with asparagus. It’s reliant mainly on ground temperature but also moisture; some nice warm April rains could speed it along.”
As we anxiously await the harvest of “sparrow grass,” a guarantee of getting them fresh out of the ground is to join Marilee’s Farmstand CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, which begins Saturday, April 15.
There are two CSA options: customers can prepay for the full season or sign-up on a week-by-week basis, and she offers a 15% discount for seniors, teachers, firefighters, EMTs and healthcare workers. It’s not only a way to support local agriculture, but economical for a family or housemates as well, with a $50 basket of assorted, in-season vegetables, suitable for four people.
“And really to taste insanely good, as it should, asparagus should be eaten the same day it is picked,” says Foster, “that is why it is a truly seasonal thing best found in springtime at a roadside stand.”
Asparagus doesn’t ask for much when wanting to join the meal as an accompaniment to a main dish; simply steamed and salted usually does the trick. But why not make it the main dish? This recipe does just that, perfect for lunch with some nice, crusty bread paired with a bottle of minerally, zingy sparkling wine.
Grilling the spears raises the bar here, adding a bit of crispy char and smokiness from the hot grates while keeping the stalks tender inside. Those nifty copper sheets available at most home stores can help prevent the dreaded drop-ins and still give you the grill marks you want.
Pistachios and torn mint add a bit of crunch and a Moroccan vibe. If you like, feel free to swap in balsamic for the white vinegar in the dressing (although the lemon and white wine vinegar combo keep the asparagus the star of the show), or add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard if you like that little bit of extra zing. Parmigiano-Reggiano brings a decadent, nutty, salty note and the lemon zest adds a bright, complementary finish.
Take a drive over to the farm stand ASAP—Marilee’s is open on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for regular shopping, with additional produce and dry goods for sale.
Grilled Sagaponack Farm asparagus salad
For the asparagus:
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 tbsp roasted, salted pistachios, roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
For the dressing:
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste