Not so long ago, I had no idea what to do with or how to cook asparagus. I thought it was some green stuff that came from a can and the more butter I could bury it in, the better :0) Now that I know better, I thought that I would share with you a little bit of the stuff I learned about asparagus.
On www.asparagus.org, I found a good summary about the plant itself
· Asparagus is a member of the Lily family.
· Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.
· Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period.
· Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.
· The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking...early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours.
· After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
· An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.
· A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
· The larger the diameter, the better the quality!
· Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which is high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin.
· Asparagus has no fat, contains no cholesterol and is low in sodium.
When buying asparagus, the fresher you get the better quality taste you receive. You also want to look for larger diameter asparagus, as they are less woody and fibrous. Once you buy a bunch, take it home and refrigerate . Or, if you are planning on eating it right away (that's me!!), give it a good rinse, cut the bottom ends off, and either dice it up and eat it, or put it in a recipe :0)
I have found that asparagus is pretty much good to add to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We like to wrap it in bacon for breakfast or add it to a Frittata. At lunch, we put it in our salad (cooked or raw), or steam it for ten minutes to make a side dish. For dinner, it is great to grill as a side dish.
However, our favorite recipe with asparagus is Asparagus Soup. Since asparagus can be a bit expensive at times, I hate to throw it out when it gets old or the quality isn't so good. So, I really like making this soup as it still works well with asparagus that is getting old or is more on the woody/crunchy side. The recipe works well because the asparagus gets strained, leaving behind the woody parts so we don't have to eat the not so yummy parts, but we still get the awesome flavor!
Adapted from recipe found on blog.fatfreevegan.com
|2 pounds||asparagus spears, ends trimmed|
|2 cloves||garlic, peeled|
|1/2||small onion, sliced|
|2 cups||chicken broth|
|1/8 teaspoon||white pepper|
|salt to taste|
Preheat oven to 450F. Place the asparagus spears on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn asparagus and sprinkle the onion and garlic over it. Roast for about 10 more minutes, until asparagus is very tender. If anything looks like it’s browning too much, take it out.
Important Note: These directions are for thicker asparagus. Thin asparagus may take much less time so start with 6 minutes, turn and add onions and garlic, and check again in 5.
When the asparagus is done, select several of the best-looking spears, remove the tops, and set aside to use as garnish. Cut the remaining asparagus into pieces and put it and the onion and garlic into the blender, along with the remaining broth. Cover the blender and blend on high until perfectly smooth.
Pour the soup through a sieve into a saucepan and heat until hot, stirring frequently. Add salt, if needed, to taste.
Pour into bowls and garnish each bowl with the reserved asparagus spears
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