What’s in Season – Asparagus
This vegetable – a sure sign of spring – makes a tasty and nutritious side dish, appetizer or salad ingredient.
Look for straight, crisp spears with green or purple tips with tight heads. It’s freshness, not size, that’s important. One pound (500 g) makes two to four servings, depending on use.
Although best eaten fresh, asparagus can be refrigerated for two or three days. Wrap stem ends in damp paper towels, then cover entire bunch with plastic wrap. Or stand straight up in a jug of water.
Preparation / Cooking
Wash in cold running water to remove sand or grit. Then snap off and discard tough, woody ends.
To keep nutrients, flavour and crisp texture, don’t overcook: thin spears may need less than three minutes. To speed cooking of thick spears, cut an “X” in the bottom of each stalk.
To cook asparagus, add enough water to saucepan to just cover asparagus. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Cook until tender crisp, drain well.
To serve hot, use immediately. To serve cold or use in a recipe, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Other methods of cooking include:
- steaming (4 to 8 minutes, tightly covered)
- drizzling with oil and oven-roasting (at 500°F [260°C] for 8 to 10 minutes)
- microwaving (covered with 2 tbsp [30 mL] water on High for 4 to 6 minutes) and stir-frying
Cooked asparagus is often served with melted butter or hollandaise sauce and paired with boiled or scrambled eggs. It can also be lightly dressed with olive oil, steamed and wrapped in thinly sliced ham or prosciutto, or sautéed with garlic and wild mushrooms.
Nutrition 101: Asparagus
Asparagus contains fibre and antioxidants such as glutathione, and is a useful source of vitamin C and potassium. Six spears contain 134 mcg of folate, 25 per cent of the recommended dietary allowance and only 20 calories.
Salty prosciutto, nutty Asiago cheese and succulent Homegrown Ontario veal scaloppini come together to make this appetizer wonderful for entertaining.