Spring is my favorite time of year, all of the new life outside reminds me that I, too, have a fresh start. A fresh look at the year to come and what that year may hold. Another reason I love spring is that it allows me to execute my plans for my backyard garden. I actually start thinking of this in January when the snow is abound, but get really excited as spring approaches to finalize plans for the growing season.
Just as spring allows for fresh beginnings in the garden, I love to take a peak at what is happening outside in my garden.
I grew up with a large garden full of fresh vegetables, and an especially large patch of asparagus. Once the plant is established in the ground, it really is one of the easist vegetables to grow, as it will do its thing every spring. For more information on planting asparagus: http://www.gardeners.com/Growing-Asparagus/7343,default,pg.html
As a child though, I wasn’t fond of this vegetable, especially when it was creamed. But now as I have progressed with my skills in the kitchen (another word for older and wiser!), I have discovered that it is something I really enjoy eating and making for my family.
Whether you grow it or buy it in the supermarket, choosing asparagus to use in the kitchen is simple. Choose asparagus that has dry, tight tips without wilted or limping stalks. Once in the kitchen, ideally, it’s best to use asparagus in the first two to three days. Wrap the ends of the stalks in damp paper towels to keep it fresh and store upright in a glass. If you happen to see white asparagus in your supermarket, it is the result of NOT seeing the sun. Soil is continuously heaped onto it to prevent photosynthesis from taking place. A true delicacy in some countries.
The reasons to eat asparagus are not only taste – but also for the excellent health benefits it provides. By eating only 5 stalks of this powerful green vegetable, you will be gaining enormous amounts of folate, as well as vitamins A, C and E; all potent nutrients to protect against heart disease. A serving of asparagus also contains 10% of your daily requirements for potassium (more than a banana) which can help lower blood pressure.
There are many ways to try it to preserve the nutrients:
- Raw (kids love it this way)
- Roasted in the oven at 400 degrees with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper
- Grilled in a vegetable basket or skewered to look like rafts of asparagus
- Peel it – use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons of asparagus that are easily integrated into many recipes including pastas, side dishes and salads
Here is a creative way to make a colorful (and fancy sounding) spring salad with a tool everyone has – a vegetable peeler. Don’t let the name intimidate you.
Raspberry Chipotle Balsamic Asparagus and Strawberry Salad
Created by Jen Haugen, RD, LD
Servings: 2 side dish or 1 main dish
- 1 head butter leaf lettuce
- 6 stalks asparagus
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped ham
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced Parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler for a rustic effect)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Fischer & Wieser Roasted Red Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (www.jelly.com)
- Wash all produce prior to preparation. Remove small core from butter leaf lettuce head by twisting and pulling from bottom. Spread onto large plate if using for main dish serving.
- Remove woody ends of the asparagus by bending and breaking where the stalk naturally breaks. Using a vegetable peeler, peel 4 of the asparagus stalks starting at the bottom and working your way to the top of the stalk. Sprinkle shreds on salad. Leave the tips intact and place on salad. Reserve two stalks for final garnish.
- Spread strawberries evenly over salad. Sprinkle walnuts, ham and Parmesan cheese shreds over salad.
- Whisk balsamic vinegar and raspberry chipotle sauce in a small bowl and drizzle over salad.
Recipe Source: Jen Haugen, RD, LD “Down-To-Earth Dietitian”
Would love to know how you use asparagus in your family!