Queen of Spring Vegetables – Good Source of Vitamin A, K and Iron
There is something elegant about Asparagus. The tender spears topped with a flower are beautiful, nutritious, delicious, and said to be an aphrodisiac.
Asparagus usually makes its entrance in a big way at Easter time and announces that Spring is just about here! With the arrival of Farmer’s Markets in May, one of the most coveted prizes is local fresh asparagus in bright green and purple shades. Cook these gems gently and treasure them.
Nutrient-dense food is characterized by being a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while at the same time being low in empty calories. Asparagus definitely fits the bill since it is very high in vitamin K, and is a good source of vitamin A and Folate. When it comes to minerals asparagus is a good source of Iron, Copper, and Manganese.
Nutrient Profile of Asparagus – 1 cup raw
Fiber (carbs): 68% | Total carbs 5.3 g
Dietary fiber 2.8 g
Glycemic Load: 3
Vitamins: Rich source of vitamin A, K, and a moderate source of Folate.
Minerals: Source of Iron, Copper, and Manganese
HOW TO SHOP FOR ASPARAGUS
Look for asparagus that bright green with tight buds. Sometimes the flower buds have hints of purple. To make even cooking easier look for spears that are even in thickness.
Most of the asparagus we find in grocery stores in North America is green asparagus, which is considered the most nutritious variety. Asparagus also comes in white and purple. White asparagus is grown by covering the spears from sunlight, preventing chlorophyll (green colour) from forming. Purple asparagus is rarer, it is higher in sugar but rich in antioxidants.
HOW TO STORE ASPARAGUS
When you get home with the asparagus if not using right away, trim ends and place it in a glass of water in the fridge to keep fresh. You can also loosely cover the spears with the plastic bag they came in, or with a beeswax wrap to avoid using plastic as much as possible in your home.
HOW TO PREPARE ASPARAGUS
The lower portion of the asparagus spear is more fibrous, so trim off the lower 1/4 -1/2″. If ends are thick you may also want to peel the bottom third of the stem with a vegetable peeler or paring knife to remove the fibers that are tough to chew.
Local asparagus, especially tender thin spears are great raw in salads. Chop finely, or use a vegetable peeler and make ribbons to add to salads.
Tie trimmed asparagus into bunches of 8-10 with cooking twine. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, carefully lower asparagus bouquets into the water. Let simmer on low, until soft when pierced after 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness. Rinse under cold water until cool, or place in a water bath with ice cubes to stop the cooking. The asparagus can now be dressed with a vinaigrette or other sauce.
Drizzle prepared asparagus with avocado oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper. With your hands or tongs, distribute so asparagus is evenly coated. On a medium-hot grill oiled with avocado oil, grill asparagus for 1-3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. The goal is to lightly grill, avoid burning the asparagus flower. Place on serving platter, drizzle with olive oil, squirt with lemon juice, lemon zest, coarsely chopped parsley, and finish with a few flakes of coarse salt.
Asparagus can be roasted in the oven. Prepare asparagus as if grilling and place in oven-proof dish or tray. Roast in the middle of an oven preheated to 400 F. Roast for 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness, until soft when pierced. Turn once while roasting. Place on serving platter, drizzle with olive oil, squirt with lemon juice, lemon zest, coarsely chopped parsley, and finish with a few flakes of coarse salt.
Frozen or fresh asparagus can be turned into a creamy asparagus soup.
Source: Nutrition data