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Asparagus: The Official Veggie of Spring

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April 13, 2012

Asparagus, the official veggie of spring time, is a perennial reminder that summer is on its way. A proud member of the lily family, asparagus was first cultivated 2,500 years ago by the ancient Greeks. Its tender shoots are brimming with vitamins A and K and are rich in folic acid. Low in calories (less than 5 calories per spear! and full of fiber, asparagus is the perfect addition to your spring meals, as both a main course and a side dish.

When it comes to selecting asparagus, look for straight, firm spears. Be sure the tips are intact. Thin spears are usually a bit sweeter and tenderer, while thicker spears are meatier and ideal for grilling or roasting. Store asparagus in a plastic bag in the coolest part of the fridge until you’re ready to prepare them.

Here are four easy recipes with new ways to enjoy asparagus:

Roasted Asparagus
Preheat your oven to 400F. Wash and trim the ends off two pounds of asparagus, and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 30 minutes.

Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette
Wash and trim the ends off two pounds of asparagus. Parboil for two minutes; drain. Toss with lemon vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette:  In a jar with a lid, add 1 tbs Dijon mustard, 1 tbs zested lemon, 2 tbs lemon juice, ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Shake well.

Easy Cream of Asparagus Soup
Melt three tablespoons of butter in a stockpot. Add one finely chopped onion, two pounds of finely chopped asparagus, and one finely chopped stalk of celery, and sauté until onion is translucent (about five minutes). Add 3 quarts of chicken stock and a ½ glass of white wine. Simmer on low for 45 minutes. Add ½ cup of heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste. Run soup through a food processor for 20 seconds.

Asparagus Au Gratin
Simmer 2 pounds of asparagus spears until tender (about 10-15 minutes).  Drain and place in an ovenproof serving dish. In a saucepan over low heat, melt ½ stick of butter; stir in 3 tbsp flour until smooth. Gradually stir in 1 ½ cup milk. Keep stirring until the mixture has thickened. Pour the sauce over the asparagus. Sprinkle with one cup of cheese (parmesean, gruyere, or some other white cheese works best with this dish). Season with salt and pepper to taste and bake under a broiler until the cheese is lightly browned (about three minutes).

How do you like to serve asparagus?

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