Asparagus, For the Best of Us

How and Why to Eat This Spring Vegetable

By Shauna Lindzon

 

Who’s ready to talk about asparagus? I love asparagus, and as a dietitian and a foodie, there is one word that comes to mind whenever I think of asparagus – elegant! When I see asparagus lining the produce aisle in the grocery store I get excited because it makes me think, ‘Spring is here!’.

Like most vegetables, asparagus is full of fibre, and it has plenty of healthy nutrients such as folate, vitamin K, and potassium.   Though asparagus is typically green, you may have seen white asparagus in the grocery store.  It turns out that white asparagus is picked before it reaches the top of the soil, while the green variety is allowed to peek through the soil and be exposed to sunlight, which in turn helps it develop its bright green colour from chlorophyll production.

Now, on to the fun part.  How do we turn these spears into something delicious?  If you lightly steam them, you can add them to a crudité platter.  You can then serve them in a tall glass and pick them out one by one while dipping them in a variety of creamy dips (Fun tip – they go exceptionally well with ranch dips or a creamy blue cheese dip – Yum!).

Another simple way to enjoy them is to drizzle them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven at 425⁰F for 10 minutes.  Then, remove them from the oven, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and roast again for 2-3 minutes, and then finish them off with some lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, and extra salt and pepper if desired.  If you want to get really fancy, you can shave some raw asparagus on top for an extra crunch.  You can also fire up your barbecue and lay them down on the grate and this will lend itself to a beautiful char.  This is so convenient when your barbecue is on all spring and summer, and the bonus is that there is no extra cleanup!

Asparagus is also delicious when added to spring frittatas, placed on puffed pastry tarts, or added to potato salads.  Nice pairings include topping the spears with sliced hard-boiled egg, crumbled feta cheese, or chopped nuts.  The possibilities are endless!   Another suggestion is to create a smooth and creamy pureed asparagus soup.  I like to add lots of onion and garlic along with broth and once cooked, puree it with a hand blender.  A nice touch is to finish asparagus soup off with steamed asparagus tips, fresh lemon juice, parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of freshly chopped herbs. Cream is always optional, but not necessary if you use a handy blender to make it naturally creamy.  I can just taste it now.  Nothing else screams spring like this does!

 

Shauna Lindzon is a dietitian and nutritionist.  She is a program developer and nutrition leader at Wellspring Cancer Support Network and enjoys doing virtual nutrition cooking classes and corporate wellness lectures.  For more information about Shauna visit shaunalindzon.com and follow her on Instagram @shaunalin.