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Make sure to eat your greens!

December 7, 2011

Until recently, I was unknown to the culinary world of asparagus, or itshealth benefits. But since I started blogging about food, I have seen so many different ways to cook asparagus. Low in calories and packed full of nutrients like Folic Acid, Vitamin K, potassium and flavonoids, its a boon for the body. And the best part, you can serve it in several innovative ways or pair it with your food to get some greens into your system. And if you don’t like them plain  don’t worry, one of the different methods and recipes listed below will surely suit your style and taste!

Few would know that “Asparagus” are actually the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant. They’re considered to be a “vegetarian delicacy”, which I’m sure you’d agree if you’ve paid for a bunch of these at the supermarket! They have a distinct, intense savoury flavour, and while French asparagus is purple, the British and American varieties are green. In contrast, Spanish and much of Dutch asparagus is white, as it’s grown beneath the soil and cut just as the tips emerge.

Being my first time, I wanted something quick and tasty to ease myself into the “eat asparagus” syndrome. I have eaten it with pasta before, but never really got to enjoy cooking it at home. I opted for the easy stir-fried asparagus with garlic, seasoning and a dash of parmesan for my first project, but now that I have developed a taste for it, I’ll be trying more adventurous things with these greens! Meanwhile, here’s a look at different ways to cook asparagus.

Note: Always be careful to wash asparagus spears in cool water to clean any soil or sand clinging to the tips. Then bend the spears so that they snap at the natural breaking points, or remove the two ends with a knife. Now you are ready to cook them using any of the methods below.

Steaming
You can even steam asparagus spears or pieces for 3-4 minutes using a All-Clad Asparagus Pot w/ insert ; just rinse under cool water after done so they don’t become too limp. Add the semi-boiled asparagus to a pan with 2 tbsp olive oil, then add pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, some lemon juice and salt/pepper for a delicious take on Cooked Asparagus Better yet, whisk an egg in a small bowl, and some bread or cracker crumbs in a separate bowl. Dip the steamed asparagus pieces into the egg, then coat with cracker crumbs, and fry in hot oil until golden to make easy Asparagus Fritters.

Roasting
Bake or Roast asparagus in an oven preheated to 450 degrees F for for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender. This method is generally preferred for thicker spears, and I particularly love it as it makes the stalks more crispier compared to steaming or boiling. Roasting asparagus is an easy, and flavorful way to enjoy these delicious green spears. The flavor is concentrated as the asparagus turns a deep, dark green. A topping of chopped nuts toasted in butter and olive oil, combined with some fresh salt and pepper makes for a great Roasted Asparagus Salad

Stir-Frying
Just like any other green beans, you can stir-fry 2-inch lengths of asparagus with some light oil, salt, pepper and seasoning. You can also add some finely chopped garlic while sauteeing the stems. Add these seasoned stalks to your favorite pasta, mix all in a creamy wine sauce, and you have an easy and delicious Pasta recipe with Asparagus.

Grilling
As barbecue season sets in, Grilled Asparagus can be an easy way to relish the greens. You can arrange smaller pieces of asparagus on skewers along with other veggies and grill them over a bbq. Just brush them with some olive oil and keep turning it around on the grill over medium heat, until the edges get browned and the stems are barely tender-crisp (about 5-7 mins). Drizzle with some lemon or orange juice, cajun seasoning and fresh parmesan cheese for a quick appetizer.

Choosing & Storing Asparagus – It is generally in season from May to July, and is best cooked within 2-3 days of purchase, just like any other vegetables. The tips should be tightly curled and perky; choose stalks that are firm and straight, rather than limp and wilted. You can wrap asparagus shoots in damp kitchen paper, put them in a perforated paper or plastic bag and keep in the salad drawer of the fridge; you can also store it in a glass or jug of cold water in the fridge for 3-4 days.

I was thrilled to have discovered so many lovely recipes using Asparagus. From appetizers to soups and pastas to salads, it is one of the most versatile veggies! And with so many different ways to cook asparagus, there’s no way you can resist including these lovely summer stalks in your daily menu, right? If you have some favorite asparagus recipes to share, We would love to hear them!

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From → Daily Tips

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