Asparagus is a seasonal vegetable and locally grown asparagus is only available fresh for a few weeks at the beginning of the summer. It can be available at other times of the year, if imported from Mexico, at a higher price. Fresh asparagus contains vitamins A, C and E.
Look for an even-sized bunch of spears and do not buy asparagus that is dry and wrinkled or has cracked or woody stems. Open tips are a sign of ageing.
Trim off any woody parts of the stem before steaming or lightly boiling until tender. It can also be grilled. Asparagus is delicious served by itself, with a vinagrette or lemon dressing. Try wrapping individual spears in a slice of Tofurky or Field Roast, secured by a cocktail stick, for an elegant appetizer.
Asparagus recipe selection
by Tawon Thai Restaurant, from The Veg-Feasting Cookbook
The fresh taste of asparagus provides the bass note in this medley of vegetables. Serves 4
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
4 scallions, white parts only, sliced thin
1 small onion, sliced
2 medium celery ribs, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise
12 white mushrooms, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon black bean garlic sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and cook, stirring until the garlic turns brown. Add all the vegetables, the ginger and the black bean garlic sauce, and stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with the sugar and soy sauce and serve.
The following recipes are reprinted from www.nutritionmd.org with permission
Cream of Asparagus Soup
Makes 7 1-cup servings
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 – 2 cup fortified unsweetened soy- or rice milk
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Place potatoes in a large pot with water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.
Remove tough ends from asparagus, then cut or break it into 1-inch lengths; you should have about 4 cups.
When potatoes are tender, add asparagus, along with cabbage, parsley, and basil. Cover and simmer until asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes.
Use a blender to purée vegetables in 2 or 3 batches, adding some of the non-dairy milk to each batch. Be sure to start blender on a low speed and hold lid on tightly. Return soup to pan, add salt to taste, then heat until steamy.
Asparagus with Garlic and Pecans
Makes 4 servings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus, broken into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup pecan halves
Sauté garlic in oil in a medium skillet. Add asparagus and soy sauce. Cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring often until asparagus is tender. Add pecans and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve.
Pasta con Asparagi
Makes 4 servings
We have lightened this recipe by sautéing with water or vegetable stock instead of oil.
1 – 2 tablespoon water or vegetable stock
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 pounds fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
8 ounces dry spaghetti
Heat water or vegetable stock in a large non-stick pan. Add onion and sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes, until translucent. Add tomatoes, asparagus, basil, and sage. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain spaghetti and place in a serving bowl. Add the asparagus mixture and toss. Serve immediately.
Tip: Because asparagus tips cook faster than the thicker ends, you may wish to thin the asparagus with a potato peeler or chop off the ends.