The fleshy green spears of asparagus arrives with the coming of spring. Succulent and tender, asparagus has been considered a delicacy since ancient times.
This low calorie, nutritionally well-balanced vegetable is rich in dietary fiber, high in folic acid and a good source of potassium, thiamin, and vitamins A, B6, and C and is low in calories. You can enjoy this veggie raw or with minimal preparation.
Health benefits of asparagus:
• Research indicates that eating asparagus can help control diabetes.
• Acting as a diuretic, asparagus can help prevent kidney stones
• Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, and is high in anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Rinse the spears with cold water. Cut or snap off the bottom third of the spear where the woody part starts to turn tender.
When possible, enjoy asparagus the day you purchase it. Or wrap the bases in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for up to four days. You can also stand asparagus spears upright in a container filled with 1 inch of water. Cover the asparagus and the container with a plastic bag.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place asparagus on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss lightly to coat. Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until crisp-tender, lightly tossing twice during roasting. Season with salt and pepper if desired
Place a steamer basket in a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket. Bring water to boiling. Add asparagus to steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Lay the asparagus spears in a large skillet and top with 1 inch of water. Lightly salt the water and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus stirring, until the asparagus is bright green and crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Generously brush asparagus with olive oil or melted butter or margarine. Place asparagus on a piece of heavy foil or directly on a grill rack, perpendicular to the wires on the rack. Grill, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.
Add asparagus to a pan of boiling water. A frying pan is best as the spears will fit easily. Cook for 2 minutes or until bright green. Run under cold water to stop the cooking process.
Place asparagus in a microwave-safe baking dish or casserole with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Bring 1 inch salted water to a boil in a large skillet. Add asparagus in one layer. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes for medium and 7 minutes for jumbo. Drain.
• Deep Fried
Dip asparagus into desired batter mixture. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully place coated asparagus in the hot oil; fry until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
Ever notice that your urine has a different smell after you eat asparagus? Well, fear not it is completely normal! Researchers believe that, during digestion, the vegetable’s sulfurous amino acids break down into smelly chemical components.
*You should not eat asparagus if you are allergic to it. People who are sensitive to other vegetables belonging to the Liliaceae family (such as onions, garlic, and chives) should be cautious as they are at a higher risk of being allergic to asparagus.
Look for firm, bright green spears with healthy tips that are tight and not mushy. Thin asparagus is tender with a slightly crisp center. Thick asparagus has more of a meaty center with more crunch and texture.