‘Tis the season of all things bright pink and green.  Featured here are two spring season favourites: rhubarb and asparagus.  Wait!  The title said three.  Oh yes there is a third element to this post and that is a German favourite.  Yes, here in Germany, the Bärlauch is out.  Last weekend Simon and I cycled out to Schwetzingen and enjoyed a lovely stroll through the castle gardens.  Sure enough the scent of garlic permeated the air.  Bärlauch was growing everywhere.

For those readers who are not familiar with this German spring favourite, bärlauch translates literally to bear’s leek.  Like chives are to onions, bärlauchs are to garlic.  From what I understand it is the green leaf of a wild garlic plant called ramsons in English.

Inspired by bärlauch, I was determined to mix it with other spring ingredients like asparagus.  You might be a little nervous about my mention of rhubarb at this point.  Fear not dear readers, I did not mix all three.  This post has two recipes.

Let us start with the green matter.  This is a pasta recipe featuring bärlauch pesto and asparagus.  If you can’t find bärlauch pesto, then make your own.  Simply take a bunch of bärlauch and chop it coarsely.  Put it into a food processor or blender with olive oil and maybe some chopped nuts, like almonds.  Grind to a pesto consistency and season with salt and peppers.

For those of you who can’t find bärlauch at all, I might suggest going for a mix of fresh herbs and chives.  Essentially you are looking for a subtle onion-garlic flavour.  This is a pretty versatile recipe.

Bärlauch Asparagus Pesto (serves 2)

  • 1 bunch of fresh asparagus
  • 1/2 chopped yellow pepper
  • 2 shallots
  • pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
  • a few Tbsp. of bärlauch pesto
  • a few Tbsp. of quark (or full fat greek yogourt)
  • zest of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: 1 large chicken breast or shrimp or grated parmesan

In a small bowl mix the pesto, quark, lemon zest and salt and pepper.

Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and chop into finger length pieces.  Heat a pot of boiling water and blanch your asparagus.  Fish them out and leave your pot of boiling water on the stove.  Add your pasta and cook until it is done to your liking.  Drain the pasta and dump it back in the pot.

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil and saute your chopped shallots.  If you want to add the chicken or shrimp, do so now.  Once they have started cooking, add the chopped yellow pepper.  Saute a minute more or until the chicken or shrimp are done and then add it to the pasta pot.

Mix in the pesto-quark mixture.  Top with some grated parmesan if you like and enjoy.

Note:  This can also make a lovely cold pasta salad, if you dunk your asparagus and pasta quickly in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Leftovers, of the dish are also quite tasty cold.

And now onto the pink matter.  I think rhubarb is one my absolute favourite foods.  I love rhubarb pies and tarts.  This recipe is a bit of a unique rhubarb dessert.  I got it over at Orangette and it is a recipe for roasted rhubarb with vanilla bean and white wine.  I didn’t feel like heating up my small apartement by turning on the oven, so I did it stove top, but I urge you to give the roasted version a try.

I ate with some greek yogourt and it was positively perfect.  The white wine seemed to bridge the gap between the smooth delicate flavour of vanilla and the tart boldness of the rhubarb.  I was in heaven.  Orangette suggests serving it cold.  I had it warm the day of and cold the next.  I don’t know if one is better or not.  I suggest you try it both ways.

Don’t be put off by how it looks.  Rhubarb is something that you can’t judge from the outside.  It’s beauty only shows through in your mouth!

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