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Spring Side Dishes

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As fresh organic asparagus come streaming into our Carolina markets during March and April, they often awaken my creativity, sparking a quest to develop a new recipe for these divine green spears. Today, let me introduce Asparagus with Leeks and Shiitake Mushrooms.

This is a simple dish of steamed asparagus with sautéed leeks and shiitakes. I added the shiitakes because they’re delicious—and also because they’re known to improve immunity.This year our pollen levels have hit record levels, and many people have succumbed to head colds because their immune systems were weakened by allergy season. So, in years to come, I’ll remind readers to pull out this recipe at the beginning of spring!

This dish invites all kinds of flexibility. You can simmer the mushrooms in a sherry or wine of your choice—or forego this step and add a teaspoon of fine balsamic instead. I like to cook the leeks and mushrooms in the rich and delicious flavor of ghee, but you can opt for vegan with olive oil. If you love the texture of mushrooms, you can slice or chop them into larger chunks. or, if you (like my husband) dislike the somewhat rubbery texture of mushrooms, you can also mince them in a food processor. I snapped the asparagus into bite-sized pieces, but if you prefer, you can steam them whole in a separate pan before combining them with the mushrooms. You can top the finished dish with some fresh dill or tarragon, either of which goes nicely with asparagus, but you can add any other favorite herb instead. The cumin and coriander add another subtle and interesting flavor layer, and, according to Ayurveda, they also balance the digestive enzymes—as I’ve written many times before.

Boost your immunity while you enjoy these Asparagus with Leeks and Shiitake Mushrooms throughout the Passover week and the spring season!

 

ASPARAGUS WITH LEEKS AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS

Preparation Time: About 30 minutes
Serves 4

 

1 large or 2 medium leeks (about 1 cup sliced)
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder
4 to 6 large shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
½ cup cooking sherry or wine
1 pound asparagus
¼ cup water
¾ teaspoon mineral salt
1 tablespoon dill, tarragon, or other herbs, chopped

 

1. Wash and slice the leeks and mushrooms, or process the mushrooms in a food processor for a finer texture.

 

2. Heat a large sauté pan or small soup pot on medium heat. Add the ghee or oil. Once the ghee is melted, add the leeks and sauté until uniformly golden. Add the cumin and coriander. Add the mushrooms with sherry, and stir. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the mushrooms until the sherry evaporates.

 

3. While the mushrooms are cooking, wash the asparagus. Snap off the tough ends (or peel them, if you wish), and snap the spears into bite-sized pieces.

 

4. Once the sherry has evaporated, add the water and asparagus. Cover and increase the heat to medium to quickly steam the asparagus until just tender. Before serving, stir well, and top the dish with fresh herbs.

Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger to aid digestion.

Reduce fat by 1 tablespoon.

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