Viridian Farms is located on Grand Island, Oregon — an inland river island encircled by the Willamette river and Lambert slough. This fertile land was first homesteaded by the Rockhill family in the late 1800s and has hosted generations of farmers ever since, the most recent owners being husband and wife all-star team Manuel and Leslie Recio. Inspired by their cultural backgrounds, and globetrotting food experiences, Leslie and Manuel have a conscientious approach to their practice of row crop farming. In addition to taking their commitment to sustainable farming seriously, they specialize in heirloom and European produce, primarily typical of the cuisines of France, Italy, and Spain–the kind of stuff chefs’ dream about. For that reason, their produce stand at the Portland Farmers Market is one of the most popular, quickly selling out of the season’s first strawberries and heirloom asparagus. Not too surprising is the fact that Viridian Farms is also one of the most coveted locations amongst Plate & Pitchfork chefs, who salivate at the opportunity to incorporate Leslie and Manuel’s produce into their dinners.
A recent visit to Viridian’s market stand produced bunches upon bunches of Mary Washington Asparagus, an American heirloom variety that takes a year or two longer to establish than it’s French counterpart the Argenteuil. But this varietal is worth the wait, producing high yields with strong, thick, dark shoots, tight heads and succulent spears that appear from May – June. The graceful, feathery green foliage remains attractive long after harvest, and because asparagus is a perennial vegetable, you just plant them once and enjoy season after season.
A complete list of Plate & Pitchfork dinners out at Viridian Farms can be found here. In the meantime, check out this recipe idea for the asparagus that should be in your vegetable bin.
Roasted Asparagus with Fried Eggs, Pecorino and Anchovy Breadcrumbs
- 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned, preferably homemade bread crumbs
- 1 anchovy fillet, minced
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh pecorino Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 450°
Place asparagus on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; toss well. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on pan. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes or until crisp-tender, tossing once. Cool slightly and toss with lemon juice. Transfer asparagus to a serving dish.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and anchovy and stir occasionally until the bread crumbs are toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and saute until fragrant. Set aside.
Use the remaining olive oil to fry the eggs until just set but still runny. Slide the eggs on top of the asparagus, and sprinkle bread crumbs and shaved pecorino cheese over the top. Enjoy!