Asparagus: a short-lived but tasty local treat

By Kim Cooper

One sure sign that spring is in full swing is the local asparagus sold at market stands and grocery stores. However, local asparagus is here for only a short time. This nutritious crop is here one minute and then gone before we know it.

Asparagus is crammed with essential vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics that are necessary for healthy bodies. They are one of nature’s true food heroes as a source of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Asparagus is also packed in the naturally occurring phytochemicals of glutathione, rutin, and folic acid.

Asparagus, next to orange juice, is regarded as the second best whole foods source of folic acid. Asparagus is naturally fat-free and is a good source of dietary fibre and inulin. Asparagus acts as a natural diuretic and is low in carbohydrates, cholesterol, sodium, and calories (only 11 calories in three spears).

You should select asparagus that is firm, fairly straight, wrinkle-free spears with tightly closed tips. The spears should be a rich green, sometime with hints of purple, from top to bottom. Store them in a plastic bag in your crisper or set in the fridge standing upright in a container filled with enough cold water to keep the stems moist. To prepare it for cooking, wash well and then snap off the tough, lower part of the spear at its natural breaking point.

Boiling or steaming are common ways asparagus is prepared and usually will take two to four minutes.

Since we are in BBQ season, you can also grill asparagus by brushing the spears lightly with olive oil, season with salt and pepper; place them directly on the grill over medium-high heat and cook until nicely coloured and just tender, about two to three minutes per side. Another method involves blanching the asparagus for one minute before grilling, as it gives them a richer green colour and makes them moister in the middle.

So why not buy some delicious and nutritious Chatham-Kent asparagus and try a few new recipes. Remember, green is good for you. But don’t delay – here today, but aspara-gone tomorrow.

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