We have a lot of things to thank the Romans for, and asparagus is one of them. Through their ministrations, a spindly wild grass became a gastronomic favorite. Later, the French developed the variety much loved by Europeans – white asparagus (grown under a covering of soil, the chlorophyll does not develop and the stalks are much more mild and tender but they have a little less nutrients). Available fresh, canned and frozen year round, the best fresh ones are available in Fort Worth between March and June. Low in calories and high in heart-healthy nutrients, this popular vegetable can be prepared in a number of ways at any meal. Click here for a wide variety of delicious recipes.
Among its more notable nutrients, it is high in Vitamin K which is helpful for blood clotting. If you are taking warfarin (Coumadin), be cautious.
Folate – B Vitamin
Just 8 spears = 16% of daily needs. It helps to lower blood homocysteine.
Rutin – antioxidant
A flavonoid (plant nutrient) that strengthens walls of blood vessels and protects LDL cholesterol.
Glutathione – antioxidant
Sometimes called the Master Antioxidant because it helps regulate other antioxidants like Vitamin E. Asparagus is reported to contain more Glutathione than any other food.
Whether you buy thick or thin asparagus is purely a matter of choice. While some people like to bend the spear till it breaks to find the most tender portions, this can mean a lot of waste. Instead, using a potato peeler (starting just where it starts getting white), peel toward end and cut off the very end bits. The peelings can be saved for adding nutrients to stock.
Green and white varieties
Taste and texture suffer but it can be pureed and used in dips, cream soups, and spreads.
Do not thaw before shallow steaming, roasting, microwaving or BBQ.
Should be very little white on the bottom and tightly closed tips on top. Imports in off-season are from Peru, Mexico and other countries. Store in fridge with stems in a container of water and a plastic bag over the heads. You can also wrap the bottom of the stems in a wet towel and place in a ventilated plastic bag (in the crisper). Use within 3 – 5 days.
Request this Asparagus Cigar recipe – ultra thin spears in phyllo
They were a huge hit at Valentine’s dinner
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place in a circular pattern with the stems pointing outward.
Use an asparagus steamer (tall pot with removable basket that spears stand up in) so that the tougher ends are in the water while the more tender tops gently steam. Alternatively, shallow steam them in a small amount of water in a covered frying pan (try cutting them in half, cook ends and then add upper half to cook briefly).
Run wooden skewers through top and bottom of 3-5 stems to form a “raft”. Brush with oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and roast on the BBQ. Grind fresh black pepper on just before service.