Hail the Asparagus! Honoring the Tasty Spring Veggie for National Asparagus Month
They say time flies and here we are already in June! May was National Asparagus month and we feel that it’s a vegetable worth giving tribute even if it is a little past due…and there are many tasty and beneficial reasons why we should honor this multicolored, spear-shaped, shoot! The vegetable comes in green, purple and white varieties, however most prefer green. While it has its infamous trait for making your urine uniquely pungent, only 25% of people have the specific gene that makes them able to smell it. So eat your heart out in hopes that you are one of the lucky 75%. There are however multiple health benefits for those who aren’t so lucky that might make consuming asparagus worth the fragrance.
Asparagus is a tasty vegetable that contains no fat or cholesterol and is only 4 calories per shoot.
It is extremely rich in Folate (a B complex vitamin) an extremely important vitamin for everyone but women especially!
According to the National Cancer Institute, asparagus contains more glutathione, an antioxidant that can help prevent certain cancers and diseases, than any other fruit or vegetable.
It is also high in asparagine which is an amino acid that functions as a diuretic and helps to remove salts from the body making it a great vegetable for people with edema, high blood pressure or other heart-related issues.
The same amino acids and minerals help protect the liver against toxins and can actually help breakdown alcohol in the system (easing that dreaded hangover the next morning).
These delectable greens have been prized vegetables since ancient times and the Romans would preserve them in the frozen Alps to keep year round. So whether you dislike Asparagus or have never tried them, it’s worth giving this shoot a shot. Especially considering all the diverse ways to cook with them, not to mention how fast and easy it is to cook. While delicious grilled, roasted, or sautéed there are endless ways to incorporate asparagus. Here are two recipes that could enhance your asparagus experience or simply get you started on your new favorite veggie!
Cream of Asparagus Soup with Crab
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large shallots
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons white wine
2 cups half and half (I use the low-fat kind)
1/2 – 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
4 ounces lump crab
Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus for about 1 minute. Remove from water and plunge into an ice-water bath. Set aside.
In a saucepan, cook the shallots and thyme in the butter over medium-low heat until soft (about 3-5 minutes). Add the wine and cook until it evaporates. Add the half and half to the pot and bring JUST to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the cooked asparagus. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup, adding broth if necessary to bring it to your desired consistency (reheat a bit if necessary before serving). Season to taste with salt and pepper and add a few tablespoons of crab to each bowl when serving.
Strawberry, Quinoa and Asparagus Salad
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups fresh asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces
½ bulb fennel thinly sliced
8 cups arugula
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, honey and balsamic vinegar together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the asparagus and depending on the thickness cook for 1-3 minutes. Have a bowl of ice water set aside. Drain the asparagus and add it immediately to the ice bath. Set on a paper towel-lined plate.
In a large bowl combine the quinoa, asparagus, fennel, arugula and strawberries and lightly toss with the dressing.
Whatever way you choose to honor this little, spearheaded green, happy eating my fellow asparagus lovers!