Last week, here in the great Northwest, we saw the first sure signs of spring. The trees were again filled with the songs of birds, the weather warmed to almost 50 degrees and the grass seemed to take on a slightly greener hue. The first glimpse of spring also brings the gift of asparagus. Over the years we have written several articles about asparagus and shared hundreds of recipes based on this delicious and nutritious vegetable. The budding of spring once again inspires us to sing about asparagus.
Asparagus offers much more than great taste, it is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables on the planet. It is high in a variety of nutrients and vitamins including Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Asparagus is very low in sodium and calorie content and high in fiber, making it a great choice for those on a gluten-free diet.
Asparagus can be eaten raw and of course cooked in many different ways. Our preference is to cook asparagus ‘crisp-tender’, which means to cook just until you can pierce with a fork and the stalks are still somewhat firm. Asparagus should never be over cooked. Over cooking will result in limp, soft spears that have a less appealing texture and appearance.
To prepare asparagus for cooking, we simply snap off the stem end of the spears and use the top or spear end for cooking. This is easily done by bending the stem end of the stalk until is snaps off. The remaining part of the spear will be the most tender portion. An alternate method is to peel the stem end with a potato peeler.
Saucepan or Steamer: Cook fresh asparagus in a small amount of boiling water until tender. Fresh asparagus will be crisp-tender in about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears.
Cut spears diagonally in 1 inch pieces, leaving tips whole. Stir-fry pieces in butter or hot oil, in a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Stir constantly until crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Microwave fresh asparagus by placing in a microwavable baking dish or serving bowl. Add about 1/4 cup water and cover tightly. Microwave at 100% power for 4 to 7 minutes for spears, 3 to 5 minutes for cuts and tips. Stir or turn halfway through cooking time.
Fresh: Wash and dry the spears and wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water for optimum freshness in the refrigerator. Asparagus should be used within 2 to 3 days.
To Freeze: Asparagus can be frozen by first blanching in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove asparagus from boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately place in ice water. Dry and pack asparagus in plastic freezer bags or containers leaving no excess air space. For best results use within eight months. Do not defrost before cooking.
And now….drum roll…..the recipes!
Asparagus & Mixed Mushroom Risotto
Asparagus & Potato Fritatta w/Gruyere
Asparagus w/Garlic & Toasted Almonds
Asparagus w/Lemon Sauce
Asparagus w/Mango Mayo
Pesto, Parmesan & Asparagus Fettuccine
Smoked Salmon & Asparagus Pasta
Spring Vegetable Salad
Corn Crusted Roasted Asparagus
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Fried Rice w/Asparagus
- Chef Yvonne