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In my mind, there is only one Queen of the Spring and that would be asparagus. Luckily for Marylanders, asparagus grows like crazy in our soils, especially on the Eastern Shore. Chef Jerry Pellegrino and I talk about asparagus every Spring, and we never get tired of it or run out of ideas.

Jerry is currently trying his hand at raising asparagus. If you can manage to get some planted, a few hours of work will provide you with years of fresh harvest.

Here are some of the things he has come up with and a can't miss recipe.

Growing Asparagus

Here’s a great video on how to dig and asparagus trench and get them planted:

And to decide what varieties you want to plant look here: https://harvesting-history.com/tag/asparagus/

Once you’ve harvested or purchased some try this perfect spring salad: https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/shaved-asparagus-salad/

Or this spring soup: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cream-of-asparagus-soup-creme-dasperges-104746

Asparagus Risotto

1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths

1.2 cup heavy cream

5 cups chicken stock

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic , sliced

1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)

Blanch asparagus pieces in large pot of boiling, salted water 2 minutes. Drain. Rinse asparagus under cold water. Drain asparagus well. Take half of the asparagus and purée with the cream in a food processor until smooth. Set it off to the side.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to low and keep broth hot. Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir 3 minutes. Add dry white wine and cook until liquid evaporates. Continue cooking until rice is tender but still slightly firm in center and mixture is creamy, adding chicken broth 1 cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, about 20 minutes. Add blanched asparagus pieces and the puréed asparagus and stir until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 6 tablespoons butter and stir until incorporated. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese. Season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.