Everything You Need To Know About Asparagus
Known around the world as the queen of vegetables, asparagus isn’t just healthy but delicious too. Harvested at its peak, spring is the perfect time to purchase and enjoy them. They’re full of flavor and nutrition, as well as being reasonably priced. It’s also a great way to sneak some fiber into your diet as it promotes regularity and digestive health. It’s fat-free, cholesterol-free, sodium-free, and a good source of vitamin C and iron. The Bottom Line – asparagus is a nutritious and tasty snack or addition to any meal.
It’s rich in folate, Vitamin C, potassium and sodium, inulin, antioxidant, and has anti-inflammatory properties. For medicinal purposes, asparagus is used as a natural laxative, and its cooking water to treat acne.
Asparagus season generally runs from April to mid-June and sometimes into July in the northern US.
How to store fresh asparagus
Asparagus isn’t cheap and goes bad quite fast, so it’s best to eat it as soon as possible. If you must wait, it can last longer by trimming the ends of the stalks and standing the bunch (bound together) in a glass cup with half an inch of water. Then, place it in the refrigerator.
What to look for when buying asparagus?
Asparagus comes in different varieties: green, white, and purple. The taste of all varieties is similar but purple (which turns green when cooked) tends to be a bit sweeter. The most common US variety, green asparagus, ranges in shades of light to medium green, with dark or purple tips, with a width and length at around 8–10 inches. Truth be told, no matter the size of the asparagus, it can be tender and sweet just as long as it’s fresh.
When shopping, it’s important to look for firm and not wilted stalks, closed tips with no offshoots, vivid color, stem ends not dried out and has a fresh scent. Most likely, these will be the most tender. Just try and eat within two days for the best flavor. Asparagus can be enjoyed raw, shaved, sliced thin, steamed or roasted, or grilled.
How to prepare asparagus
- Wash asparagus using cool running water. Do not use soap.
- Use a separate cutting board for vegetables and cut away any damaged areas.
- It’s not necessary to peel asparagus unless you have exceptionally woody stalks
- Trim the ends of each spear (1-2 inches). If you’re not sure where to trim, just gently grasp a stalk around the root with one hand, and the other about mid-way down the stalk. Bend gently and wherever it breaks is where it should be trimmed.
Different cooking methods for asparagus
Fill a pot with 5 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Then, gently place the prepared asparagus in the water. Keep the pot uncovered so you can easily check for doneness. Depending on the size, cooking times can vary from 5-7 minutes.
When they’re done, drain and rinse them with cool water for a few seconds to stop the cooking or cool in a single layer at room temperature. You’ll most likely see the color go from vibrant green color to olive green.
Lay the spears in a single layer in a steaming rack over water, cover the pot, and cook until just tender or steam in a tall, narrow pot that allows for the woody stems to be immersed in the boiling water while allowing the tips to remain out.
Heat up a skillet with 2 tbsp of butter, or olive oil, and some minced garlic. Trim, and cut asparagus diagonally into 1-2 inch pieces so it cooks tenderly in just 3-4 minutes or until slightly wilted. Next, add some seasoning like salt and pepper for taste. Then, sprinkle with parsley and serve!
Grilling asparagus is easy and delicious. To grill trimmed asparagus, brush it with olive oil, salt, and grill it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes or to desired tenderness. Make sure not to leave them unattended and turn often to avoid burning the outside before the inside is tender.
Spread trimmed asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Lightly brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt, garlic, pepper, and some parmesan cheese. Place them in an oven that has been preheated at 425°F. Bake until tender which is usually around 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness. Serve them hot or at room temperature with a sprinkle of lemon.