Asparagus · Broccoli Rabe · Pak Choi · Pasta · Seafood · Shrimp

First Harvest, Two Ways


All of our gardens this year seem, at this point, to be more lush and productive than they were at this time last year.  Maybe it's the weather.  Maybe it's the super awesome compost we put down.  Maybe my husband's green thumb grew THREE SIZES that day.  I don't know.  But we've got a lot of green stuff out there.

We've been picking asparagus for several weeks now, and here and there a leaf of something, but yesterday, we actually harvested some things.  In a collander (so you know we mean business).

Here's the take:


Four pak choi, two more asparagus, and about 6 broccoli rabe plants.  Part of the reason we pulled these (except the asparagus) was because they had grown so tall they were blocking light from some smaller plants behind them.  The broccoli rabe can really go a bit longer, but, again, they were blocking light, and I was hungry.

My initial plan was to cook all the greens together, probably in some kind of pasta dish.  But something in me resisted that plan and so I figured, okay, I'll make two dishes.  I thought it would be fun to make these two dishes kind of similar, but with different ethnic influences.

No real recipe – I didn't measure things – but here's what I did:

Spaghetti with Broccoli Rabe and Asparagus


I poured some olive oil in a pan, added two crushed, sliced cloves of garlic, and about two tablespoons of tomato paste.


To that I added a good slug of Blueberry Wine (yes, blueberry) from Cellardoor Vineyard in Lincolnville, ME (not far from Camden).  Why Blueberry Wine?  The bottle was already uncorked.  And it's red.

I whisked all that together and let it simmer for a bit, and sprinkled some oregano in there, too.  While all that was going on, I also had a big pot of water on the stove, coming to a boil, for the spaghetti.

I rinsed the rabe (and trimmed off the roots) and the asparagus…


I also thawed some shrimp and sliced them in half, lengthwise.

Once the spaghetti was cooking, I sliced the rabe, broke the asparagus into pieces, and added them to the tomato paste and garlic mixture.  When that had cooked down, I added the shrimp pieces, and then, when the spaghetti was cooked, I combined the spaghetti with the sauce/shrimp/greens mixture and served.


A little freshly grated parmesan on top, and my kids were both quite happy to eat this for dinner.

While I was doing all that, I was also concocting this:

Thai Style Rice Noodles with Baby Pac Choi


First up, I trimmed the roots from the pak choi leaves.


And then I rinsed the dirt off…


And sliced the leaves cross-wise, about an inch wide, and set them aside while I assembled some other ingredients…


And they are:  ban pho (rice noodles about half an ince wide), zest and eventually juice of one lime, 3 dried thai chilis (sliced later), sliced fresh ginger, two cloves of garlic, and some shrimp. 

I also had on hand some fish sauce (nuoc mam) and soy sauce.  I think that was everything.

I immersed the noodles in a large bowl of boiling water to soak for about ten minutes.

Once the spaghetti had been added to the sauce in the first recipe, I had my power burner free and set the wok above that.  I poured some vegetable oil in the wok and heated it until it started to smoke.

To that I added the garlic and ginger, sauteed them briefly, then added the chopped chilis, and the lime zest, and the fish and soy sauces.  I'd say to taste, but it was more to see and to smell.

Next in went the shrimp, and on top of that, the sliced pak choi, and the lime juice.

After the pak choi was wilted, I drained the rice noodles and added them into the wok and tossed the mixture together. 

Because of the heat from the thai chilis, Bill and I ate this and didn't give any to the kids.


Both dishes were good, though there is certainly room for improvement.  But for a quick, impromptu pair of noodle and fresh greens dishes, they were pretty tasty.


I love spring.


3 thoughts on “First Harvest, Two Ways

  1. Congrats on a wonderful garden. This year is our first garden and we did everything in containers. Next year I would love to plant asparagus and broccoli rabe. Any suggestions on getting my garden as successful as yours?

  2. Hi Christine,

    Well, to get your garden to be as successful as mine, you’d have to hire or adopt my husband (he’ll work for food). Since that’s not possible, I asked him for advice, and here’s what he told me.

    First of all, the asparagus. Asparagus is more of a long term investment than a lot of other vegetables you’d plant. For one thing, you aren’t supposed to pick any of it the first year. Just let it grow and grow into tall, delicate ferny bushes and die down and then the next year, you only harvest for 4 weeks, and then for 6-8 weeks every year thereafter. You have to let some of the spears go to ferns so your harvest will continue to increase in the years to come. You’ll want to plant them in a sunny location with good soil. There’s a good page of info here – – it’s publication HG-2003-04, I believe.

    As far as the broccoli rabe goes, again, sun and good soil. Bill started the seeds indoors and gradually hardened off the seedlings as the weather started to improve. Most of ours are nice and leafy at the moment, and a few are just barely starting to develop the broccoli florets. We’ll probably pick them in a week or so, because Bill needs the space for the next round of “crops.” Rabe is a good early crop – like peas, it likes the cooler weather.

    Bill also recommends the book “Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening” and he has also uses Mel Bartholomew’s “Square Foot Gardening” book. There’s actually a new version out, with a lot more how-to photos. We have the older version.

    I hope that helps!

  3. Christine – also!!! Good soil preparation is also essential for a productive garden. My husband recommends not going to Home Depot or Lowe’s (or whatever you have in your area) and buying their pre-packaged compost and soil, if at all possible. We buy a blend of organic compost specifically designed for raised bed gardens and work that into the soil. Bill also adds in compost from our own compost bins, and peat moss. If you’re looking to start a garden next year, maybe you could start composting this year (if you don’t already.) Every little bit helps.

    So that’s it. Good light, good soil. And water. And TLC.

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