Asparagus

Low in calories with a subtle nutty flavor

Season - Peaks in the spring

Selection - Choose firm, plump spears that snap easily with tightly closed buds

Avoid limp and slimy spears

Flavor complements - Garlic, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, hollandaise sauce, or herb butter

Storage - Refrigerate in a dry plastic bag or upright, with ends standing in 1” water, for up to 3 days.

Preparation for cooking - Snap off lower part of stalk at natural breaking point. Peel if stalks are thick.

Quick fixes - Steam whole spears 5-8 minutes until knife tender. Drizzle with 1 – 2 T of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, or season with salt and pepper and a little olive oil or butter.

Asparagus with Garlic and Almonds

4 servings, Prep 5 min Cook 15 min

1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs minced garlic
1 pound asparagus spears, bottoms trimmed
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 tbs grated parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. In medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast nuts, stirring often, until browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate.
  2. In same skillet over medium-low heat, cook vinegar and olive oil. Add garlic and asparagus. Cook, stirring often, about 5 - 8 minutes. Top with nuts. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired. Serve at once.

Per ½ cup serving: 90 calories, 4g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 6g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3g fiber, 0mg sodium 17% Daily Value* Vitamin A, 12% Vitamin C, 5% Calcium, 15% Iron. *Based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Steamed Asparagus

Serves 4, Time to prepare: 10 minutes

1 Bunch Asparagus
Lemon Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Snap end off each asparagus spear. Place stalks in a steamer and steam briefly, about 3-5 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Serving Suggestions: If desired, squeeze lemon juice on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roasted Asparagus

Serves 4, Time to prepare: 15 minutes

1 Bunch Asparagus
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Snap end off each asparagus spear. Place on a heavy baking sheet (cover with foil for easier clean-up). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and use your hands to toss and coat evenly. Roast until just tender, about 10 minutes (watch to make sure you don’t burn it!). Serving Suggestion: Serve as a first dish, side dish, or top with poached eggs as a main dish.

Fun to Know

Contrary to popular belief, people who experience a strong odor coming from their urine after eating asparagus are not in any danger from eating this vegetable. A variety of different chemicals, all breakdown products of asparagus, can be found in the urine in connection with the "asparagus smell". These chemicals generally fall within a chemical category called mercaptans. Different people form different amounts of these compounds after eating asparagus, and many people cannot smell the odor, even when they produce the compounds.

White asparagus has a milder flavor than green asparagus. White asparagus is buried under the soil to block chlorophyll production, thus resulting in a white plant. Purple asparagus has a fruitier flavor than green or white asparagus.

Nutritional Profile: Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamins K, folate, C, and A. Asparagus is also a very good source of B vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6 as well as dietary fiber, manganese, copper, phosphorus, potassium and protein.

Sources:
www.whfoods.com
www.allrecipes.com

Archibald, A Faughey, E. The Produce Partner. Food Fan Guides, 2005.