A few spears of asparagus on a plate and you’re bound to make Tuesday night’s dinner feel a bit more classy! This vegetable with long, tender shoots is a member of the lily family. Asparagus have tiny leaves that look like scales tightly packed near the tips, popular for their soft to crunchy texture and mild flavour.

HOW TO CHOOSE 

The peak freshness is enjoyed between February and June. 

Should be firm and crisp with a pleasant, faint aroma. Look for fresh, bright green spears with full, tightly closed tips. The cut ends of the asparagus should appear moist and fresh, not dried or cracking.

STORAGE

Stand spears in 1″ of water or wrap ends with damp paper towel. Cover, refrigerate for up to four days.

HOW TO PREPARE

Wash thoroughly under cool water to remove dirt or grit. The tough end of stems will snap off easily. Leave spears whole or cut as desired.

HOW TO ENJOY 

The possibilities are endless: Can be eaten raw or steamed, sautéed, baked, roasted, grilled, steamed, or even boiled. Add to cold salads or warm salads, make a cream of asparagus soup, puree with sour cream for a dip as an appetizer, add pieces along with red pepper to pasta for colour, add them to a frittata or an omelette, or eat it by the spear as a side dish.

Cooking Tips

  • You’ll know its done when you can smell its aroma.
  • After cooking, a great way to ensure that their lush green does not pale, simply run cold water over for a few seconds to stop the cooking process.

Quick & Easy Suggestions:

  • Pizza Fancy up a store-bought pizza with sliced, cooked asparagus & feta cheese scattered generously
  • Grill Butter a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil & place asparagus in centre. Add a little white wine, salt & pepper – grill 10 minutes, seam side up
  • Salads
    • Slice blanched asparagus spears into bit-sized pieces. Toss with sliced strawberries, toasted pine nuts, spinach, and poppy-seed dressing or a lemony vinaigrette
    • Mix a little honey and grated lime peel into sour cream. Toss with sliced cooked chicken, asparagus spears, and cubes of cantaloupe. Spoon into Butterhead lettuce-leaf cups. Sprinkle with sliced almonds
  • Dip Store-bought artichoke dip combined with snipped chives, grated Asiago & broil until top is golden. Served with chilled cooked asparagus spears & pita wedges
  • Steam

    • Simply add spears to steamer for 3 to 5 minutes for a great addition to your salad or a simple, healthy side
    • In warm pan, glaze with olive oil & balsamic vinegar, turning often. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese
    • Dollop with hollandaise sauce
    • Top with a quick squeeze of lemon and maybe some butter
  • Fettuccine Boil fettuccine, adding chopped asparagus for last 2 minutes. Drain. Stir in garlic buttered sautéed shrimp, lemon peel, and some pesto
  • Gourmet Burgers Top cooked burgers with cooked, sliced spears. Spoon generous dollops of Béarnaise sauce over asparagus. Scatter with chopped chives
  • Salmon Wraps Tightly wrap slices of smoked salmon around cooked, chilled asparagus spears. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Dip into Japanese salad dressing as sauce.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Asparagus is a good source of vitamin C, folic acid, and also, supplies folate, beta-carotene and glutathione, an antioxidant.

Asparagus, 3 medium spears of asparagus (raw)
Calories: 11
Protein: 1.1g
Carbohydrate: 2.2g
Total Fat: 0.09g
Fibre: 1.0g
*Good source of: Vitamin C (6.3mg), and Folate (61mcg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

OF INTEREST

These spears are cousins with leeks, onions and garlic.