By Jessica Mennella
One of the things I learned from my mother when I was a child is that if a fruit or vegetable has a relatively short growing season, the best thing I can do is eat as much of it as I can when it is fresh so that I can enjoy it before it’s gone. And so it is with asparagus. Spring is here and those beautiful green stalks have poked their heads out of the ground; join us in eating as much as we can for the short time that it is fresh. And so that you have enough recipes and reasons to inspire you, we’re sharing some of our favorite ways to prepare asparagus, and a few fun facts on how healthy this delicious vegetable is. Asparagus will only be available fresh and local for a short time, so get to a farm stand near you and buy them before they are gone. Come and cook with us!
Like broccoli, asparagus is a super-food packed with vitamin K and C, folate, antioxidants in the form of phytochemicals such as glutathione, and inulin (which selectively nourishes the “good bacteria” in our guts). And while it is healthy, what makes us a fan is its versatility: you can blanche, roast, cook or grill asparagus (see photo), turn it into an appetizer, a soup, salads, snacks or serve it as a side to your main.
For an easy tossed vegetable salad, take a bunch of asparagus, a large head of broccoli and two to three zucchini, blanche or 2-3 minutes in salt water, and drain. Toss in a roasting pan with a few handfuls of snow peas, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, and a little sesame oil and water, until the snow peas soften but are still brightly green. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy.
Or, prepare a great side dish of roasted asparagus in minutes. Arrange a bunch of asparagus (cleaned and trimmed by snapping off the bottoms at the natural breaking point) on a cooking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes at 400.
Finally, if you need a good snack, and are sick of serving carrot sticks, blanche some asparagus for two minutes, immerse in a cold water bath, and serve with a side of mustard or vinegar and oil for dipping.
It’s only once a year that we feel truly inspired to write about asparagus. This delicious vegetable reminds us that spring has finally arrived so make the most of it. Come and cook with us!