Time for Asparagus

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension image

I wish you could see a photo of the beautiful asparagus at the Lenoir County Farmer’s Market this past weekend, it will so tempt your taste buds!  Asparagus is in season and has so many health benefits, it should be added to the healthy diet.

Some Top Reasons Asparagus Keeps Us Healthy:

1 – As a detox – asparagus has 288 milligrams of potassium per cup. Potassium is known for reducing belly fat. It also contains 3 grams of fiber which cleanses the digestive system. It has virtually no natural sodium so no bloating during PMS, has no fat or cholesterol, and one cup has only 40 calories. According to a clinical dietician, asparagus in the ultimate in detox vegetables.

2 – For anti-aging purposes – asparagus is rich in potassium, vitamin A, and folate. It is also very high in glutathione – an amino acid compound with protent antioxidant properties; a must as an anti-aging deterrent.

3 – Against cancer – asparagus in high in folate which is now known to be an important protection against cancer. Note: Folate is found naturally in leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits.

4 – Reducing pain and inflammation – it is the folate that helps reduce inflammation.

5 – Preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis – asparagus has vitamin K which studies have shown can help prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Vitamin K aids in bone formation and repair. Asparagus has been listed as the number one source of vitamin K.

6 – Reducing the risk of heart disease – it is also the folate that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.

8 – Preventing birth defects – getting enough folate (doctors often recommend the folic acid supplement) is especially important for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.   Folate helps to regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation and may also help to prevent premature births.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

3/4 pound fresh asparagus, woody stems removed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Vinaigrette:
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl toss the asparagus in the olive oil, and liberally season with salt and pepper. Spread the stalks out on a baking sheet, in a single layer, and roast until tender but still firm and moist, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the mustard and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking quickly to emulsify the olive oil into the juice mixture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter, toss with the vinaigrette and serve. The dish may be eaten warm or cold.

Asparagus Bacon Bundles

1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed 4 to 5 inches long tips

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

A few grinds black pepper

4 slices center cut bacon or pancetta

Chopped chives or scallions, optional garnish

Preheat oven, if using, to 400 degrees F.

Lightly coat asparagus spears in extra-virgin olive oil. Season the asparagus with black pepper. Take a quick count of the spear tips. Divide the total number by four. Gather that number of spears and use a slice of bacon to wrap the bundle and secure the spears together. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

To grill, place bundles on hot grill and cover. Cook 10 to 12 minutes until bacon is crisp and asparagus bundles are tender.

For oven preparation, place bundles on slotted broiler pan. Bake 12 minutes.

Asparagus and Corn Salad

(Sine it will not be too long before fresh corn will be available, this will be a great recipe for late spring and early summer, or a good way to use those bags of fresh shucked corn from last season in your freezer)

6 ears yellow corn, shucked

2 bunches asparagus, trimmed

1 small red onion, diced small

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Dressing;

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large stock pot with water, salt and bring it to a boil. Place shucked corn in boiling water and blanch the corn for 3 minutes until bright yellow. Then toss the corn into an ice bath. In the same water used for blanching the corn, blanch the asparagus for 1 minute and toss into the ice bath. For the corn, once cooled, remove the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife and cut the asparagus into 1-inch angled sections. Place both the corn and then asparagus into a medium size bowl.

In another medium size bowl, mix together sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over corn and asparagus. Mix together well and chill or serve at room temperature.

Posted on Apr 2, 2012
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