Asparagus: Delicious and Nutritious

Asparagus: Delicious and Nutritious

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that people either love or hate. However if you’ve only tasted it out of a can or freezer bag, try again. It has a wild, grassy, yet delicate flavor that marries well with entrees or just as its own main event. It also has many benefits as a regular ingredient in a healthy diet and lifestyle.

A Serving of Asparagus

A serving of four spears of asparagus has 89 micrograms of folic acid, which is a powerful nutrient that helps to prevent birth defects and heart disease. It also has diuretic and antibacterial properties, can be a mild laxative and stimulates the kidneys. It contains 604 IU of Vitamin A, 134 mg of Potassium, and 380 micrograms of carotenoids. The only caution for this vegetable is that if you are prone to kidney stones or gout limit your consumption because it contains purine. Asparagus also makes your urine take on a strong grassy scent which some find distasteful or just different, and others cannot detect at all. Asparagus causes people to excrete methyl mercaptan in their urine. Many believe that only people with a genetic predisposition can excrete it, yet actually only certain people can detect the odor.

Picking Fresh Asparagus

When choosing asparagus make sure the tips are closed and dry, not soggy or slimy. The smaller stems are the most tender, the larger ones taste heartier and bolder and tend to have woodier stems.

Cooking Asparagus the Right Way

When you prepare asparagus pick one stem up and snap the end off. Where it breaks off is your benchmark for trimming the ends. For a simple and delicious preparation toss asparagus, sliced mushrooms, sliced sweet onions, minced garlic, zest and juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of EV olive oil.

Spread onto a baking tray and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes until cooked and slightly brown. You can use this as a side dish, on top of a salad, or as a pizza topping. Another delicious twist would be to toast a thick slice of whole grain French bread, spread with Dijon, top with roasted asparagus, melt low-fat smoked mozzarella on top and garnish with a thick, juicy slice of tomato for an open-faced sandwich.

Incredibly Delicious Steamed Asparagus

Steamed asparagus is the quickest (and healthiest) way to enjoy this delicacy.

You could puree it into a warm winter soup or a chilled summer “gazpacho,” into your favorite dip to add nutrition and a cool green color, or create a unique asparagus vinaigrette. Place the steamed asparagus into a blender along with a teaspoon of minced garlic, a tablespoon of grated onion, salt, pepper, the juice and zest of one lemon, white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and honey, fresh tarragon, and a short drizzle of EV olive oil. Puree and drizzle over salad, steamed veggies, chicken or fish. Nestle steamed asparagus into an omelet or frittata or serve with other sliced veggies on a crudité platter.

Asparagus also comes in white and purple varieties. These are not as widely available and are more expensive. Their flavor is similar but more subtle. No matter how you prepare your asparagus, make it a weekly addition to your diet for its delicious flavor and extensive nutritive value. These recipe ideas are just a base to free your imagination and your palate so that you can enjoy the wonders of asparagus.

Now go enjoy!