You see their pretty green spears popping up in the produce section and farmers markets every spring, but how well do you know your asparagus? Asparagus is a wonderfully nutritious vegetable. With approximately only 20 calories per serving, and a good source of calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, protein, iron, potassium and an alphabet of vitamins, asparagus is a worthy addition to any wholesome meal.
I must admit, I often found asparagus intimidating because I didn’t know how to prepare it other than boiling the life out of it, and you have to eat it pretty quickly after buying it because it doesn’t last long in the fridge. No pressure!
Recently, I decided to face my fears and picked up a bunch at my local grocery store and vowed to give this nutritious veggie another chance. To my surprise, you can do some pretty yummy things with asparagus that go beyond dumping it in a pot of boiling water!
Pro tip: for an easy way to get rid of the tough bottom section of the stems, simply snap them where they naturally break off, leaving you with tender, ready-to-eat tips.
Asparagus 5 Ways
Grilled: Is there anything that doesn’t taste better grilled?! I don’t think so. Toss your asparagus with some olive oil and your favorite seasonings and either put them directly on the grill (horizontally so they don’t slip through the cracks!) or place them in aluminum foil. Grill them for about 5-10 minutes, turning once for even cooking.
Roasted: Roasting is so easy, and it brings out some rich and delicious flavors. I like to toss the asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper, a few squeezes of lemon juice, and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese before putting it on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes at 425 F and enjoy!
Raw: Yes, you can eat asparagus raw! I never thought of doing this before I came across a recipe for a salad that used thinly sliced ribbons of raw asparagus. It’s really easy to make–you can use a vegetable peeler to slice the asparagus, then place the slices in a bowl with some other veggies like chopped cucumber and tomatoes. Add your favorite fresh herbs, some Parmesan and a simple vinaigrette and voila!
Pureed: Asparagus makes a wonderful soup. All you have to do is boil it until tender and pop it in the blender until it’s smooth. Then pour it into a saucepan and heating it up with your favorite soup stock. You can get creative by adding other veggies, or make it creamy by adding cream (or yogurt for a healthier option).
Pesto: Asparagus pesto?! Yes! Another way to enjoy your asparagus raw and preserve its full nutritional content, asparagus pesto is really easy to make. Just use chopped raw asparagus as the green part of your pesto in place of the traditional basil. Toss it in a food processor with garlic and process while adding olive oil slowly. Use it as a dip or however you like to use your pesto!
I hope these ideas help you get better acquainted with this good-for-you veggie and face your asparagus fears just like I did!