Spring in Edmonton is always a relatively late affair. April snowstorms always delay the sprouting of asparagus or rhubarb. It usually drags well into May. In the Edmonton area, we are fortunate to have Edgar Farms and their wonderful asparagus. Their unique Central Alberta microclimate yields a deliciously sweet asparagus. They only harvest asparagus for about 6 weeks so as to not overtax the fern. For more information on Edgar Farms, see here
Every year, I seem to do something different with asparagus. Whether it’s grilling, steaming, putting on pizzas, pastas, or creating condiments, I always want to stretch the conventional uses. This year, I wanted to do a salsa. As is the case with much of what I do, I want to focus on local as much as possible. I mulled over a base of roasted green pepper purée, actual asparagus purée, but I thought since rhubarb is also in season and its tartness would eliminate the need for lime, I went for a cooked rhubarb compote.
Grilled Asparagus Salsa
2-1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1 cm(1/2″) dice
1/3-1/2 cup Coal Lake Honey Farms mixed flower honey (depending on desired tartness)
20 stalks Edgar Farms asparagus
2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil
1 medium onion, peeled and thickly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
In a medium saucepan, add the rhubarb and honey with a few tablespoons of water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and stir occasionally over the course of about 25-30 minutes or until thick. Set aside to cool.
Brush the asparagus and onion slices with oil and grill over medium high heat for 7-10 minutes until a deep golden brown on all sides. Roughly chop the asparagus into 1 cm (1/2″) chunks, leaving the tips intact. Set aside. Roughly chop the onions into 2 cm(1″) chunks and set aside.
Add the thick rhubarb-honey compote to a medium bowl. Gently fold in the grilled onions and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Serve as a dip with flatbread chips or as a topping on steamed white fish or chicken. It’s also a good topping for a chicken or turkey burger or in a sandwich. For a unique twist, fold with equal quantities of plain, natural yogurt and serve as a tartar sauce with fish. Makes about 4 cups.