When one thinks of just one spring vegetable, maybe it is asparagus. It is easy to grow, and there are many easy recipes to prepare it. Once planted in the garden, it comes up voluntarily year after year, and as an added bonus, if unharvested, it grows into a lovely fern line plant that could be added to a bouquet.

Asparagus comes in three colors: green (the most common), purple (the most nutritious), and white (the hardest to come by). White and green asparagus are the same plants, but white asparagus is rather tricky to grow. It must be carefully guarded against exposure from the sun. Keep it entirely under a mound of soil and a sheet of dark plastic cover until harvest time.

Asparagus is a super healthy, non-starchy vegetable containing fiber that improves digestive health. It is incredibly high in an antioxidant called glutathione, which according to the American Diabetes Association, is known to regulate sugar levels and increases insulin production. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient involved in blood clotting and bone health, and nutrients that have blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory properties.

Purchasing very fresh asparagus is the key here, and once purchased, it should be consumed as soon as possible (within a couple of days); in the meantime, it should be stored in a glass of water, preferably in the refrigerator.

The best place to find fresh, organic asparagus is a local farmers’ market. Here is a list of markets in our area. If you want to learn the tricks and strategies of shopping at a local farmers’ market, read more about it here.

There are many ways to prepare asparagus. Asparagus is used primarily in Italian cuisine. It can be used in risotto and salads, or it could be steamed or sautéed.

My favorite is an asparagus soup:

Ingredients:

One bunch of asparagus

5 cups of chicken stock (or more as needed)

Salt to taste

White pepper (optional) Truffle oil (optional)

Wash the asparagus. The hard fibrous ends of the asparagus stocks can be chopped off with a knife or just broken off in the section where they give easy and just “snap off”. When making soup where the asparagus will be blended with a mixer, we could use more fibrous stocks to avoid less food waste.

Very tender fresh asparagus tips can be used on the top of the soup as a nutritious and delicious decoration or eaten raw in a salad.

Add chopped up asparagus into the stock and boil till tender. Blend with a blender.

If you are ambitious and want to maximize the taste, you can find a recipe for a homemade bone or chicken broth here. Otherwise, a store-bought stock will do.

Soup could be reheated or even eaten cold on a very hot day. Cold soups, in general, need more salt to taste right. A little parmigiana cheese or truffle oil adds a delicate touch.

Truffle oil is inexpensive and a tiny drop goes a long way

Another easy recipe is a simply roasted asparagus as a side dish

Roast asparagus in the oven covered with a little olive oil and salt. Makes a great crunchy side dish. If the stock is too thick, the asparagus probably needs to be peeled.

Place trimmed and peeled asparagus on a baking sheet, cover with oil and salt and pepper and shake or mix around to coat each spear well.

Set roasting temperature to 20 minutes in the oven.

This dish could be cooked ahead of time and could be reheated or served cold.

Asparagus is always a great and nutritious side dish.

Sources:

https://www.diabetes.org/

https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-asparagus#1

Library Resources:

The vegetable gardener’s cookbook : 75 vegetarian recipes that will help you make the most out of every season’s harvest by Danielle Majeika

Call Number 641.65 MAJEIKA

Format: Book

Publication Date 2019

Vegetables illustrated : an inspiring guide with 700+ kitchen-tested recipes by America’s Test Kitchen.

Call Number 641.65 AMERICA

Format: Book

Publication Date  2019

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes) by Peter Miller

Format: Hoopla eBook

Publication Date  2017

Magda Born

mborn@kckpl.org

Community Services Librarian

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

625 Minnesota Ave.

Kansas City, KS 66101

913-295-8250 ext 1103