Asparagus – The Spring Veggie Loaded With Health Benefits!!
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Despite Winters desperate attempt to hang on, it won’t be long before we will see fresh asparagus popping up at local Farmers Markets!! Asparagus has quickly become a favorite spring vegetable of many.
Asparagus is impressive nutritionally; it has virtually zero fat, is low in calories (only 20 per every 5 spears), and is packed with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals! It is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, all-important for the transport of insulin, good news if you are watching your blood sugar!! It contains the cancer fighting glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful free radicals. Asparagus is topped ranked for its ability to help slow the aging process and reduce inflammation. Because of it’s anti aging property, it may also help our brains fight cognitive decline! Finally it is a natural diuretic, it aids in release of fluid, which help rid the body of excess salts!
There are so many simple ways to cook and enjoy eating asparagus, here are just a few!!
Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach and Feta
(This is one of my favorites!)
- 1 cup orzo (I use whole wheat)
- Salt (about ½ tsp.) for boiling water
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 cup packed fresh spinach
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- ⅓ cup feta cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to boil. Add the salt. Stir in orzo. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain orzo and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add in asparagus pieces. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach. Cook until asparagus is tender and the spinach shrinks down.
- Put the orzo in a medium bowl and add in the vegetables. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the orzo and vegetables. Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Taste-add more lemon juice if you wish. I usually do add additional lemon!
- Sprinkle feta cheese over the top of the salad. Serve warm.
Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
- ½ pound fresh asparagus
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil spray
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
- Rinse the asparagus and trim off woody end pieces. Spread out in a thin layer on top of the prepared cookie sheet.
- Spray the asparagus lightly with a coat of olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Use your hands to mix the asparagus with all of the ingredients, then lay out into an even layer again. Spray with one more light coat of olive oil.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 24, Fat 0 g, Carbohydrates 3 g, Sodium 332 mg, Fiber 1 g, Protein 2 g, Cholesterol 1 mg.
Asparagus and Creamy Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad
- 1 bunch of asparagus, bottom 2″ trimmed off
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup tri-color quinoa
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup roughly chopped pecans
- 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt to season
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Add asparagus to a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon of sea salt over asparagus. Toss to coat the asparagus then lay them out in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into ½” slices. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan add quinoa and water. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is evaporated. Once the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork.
- Add quinoa to a medium bowl along with chopped asparagus, pecans, goat cheese, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, and salt to season. Toss everything together and serve!
Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 143, Fat 10 g, Carbohydrates 10 g, Sodium 257 mg, Fiber 2 g, Protein 5 g, Cholesterol 4 mg.
- 2 bunches asparagus (about 2¼ pounds)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Handful fresh herbs, such as thyme, dill or basil (optional, for garnish)
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, cut the tips off of the asparagus spears and set aside. Cut the remaining spears into ½-inch pieces.
- Add the chopped asparagus (except for the tips) to the pot, along with the chicken broth, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat down to low. Simmer for about 30 minutes until vegetables are very tender.
- Meanwhile, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the reserved asparagus tips for a few minutes until tender-crisp. Drain and refresh under cold water or in an ice bath. Set aside.
- Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. (Alternatively, use a standard blender to purée the soup in batches, then return the soup to the pot.) Return the soup to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the lemon juice and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if desired (you may need up to a teaspoon more salt).
- Ladle the soup into bowls, then top each bowl with asparagus tips, fresh chopped herbs, more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper if desired.
Serves 6. Each serving contains Calories 162, Fat 9 g, Cholesterol 18 mg, Sodium 541 mg, Carbohydrates 14 g, Protein 11 g.
Tomatoes and Balsamic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
- 1 lb. asparagus
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup Balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400°F degrees. Spray a baking dish, I used a 9 × 13 inch, with cooking spray and set aside.
- Snap the end pieces off the asparagus and place them in the baking dish. Add tomato halves too. I placed the asparagus at one end and tomatoes at the other end. Season generously with salt and pepper and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over asparagus and tomatoes. Place in oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until asparagus softens a bit and begins to get brown.
- In the meantime add the balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it reduces and starts to thicken.
- Drizzle some of the balsamic reduction over the roasted asparagus and tomatoes and serve warm.
Serves 4. Each serving contains Calories 80, Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 268 mg, Carbohydrates 12 g, Protein 5 g.