This super veggie is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables. It’s high in folic acid and a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, and vitamins A, B6, and C and it’s low in calories and sodium. Here’s a fun fact – under ideal conditions, asparagus can grow 10 inches in a 24-hour period. Wow!
Speaking of growing, asparagus originated in the Eastern Mediterranean region over 2,000 years ago in the sandy soils along the coast. Today, China, Peru, and Mexico (in that order) are the world’s largest producers of asparagus with California, Washington, and Michigan being the largest growers in the Unites States. There are 3 common varieties of the vegetable, green (the most popular), white (has a more delicate flavor and texture), and purple (is smaller with a sweeter flavor).
If you’re not an asparagus aficionado, no worries, we can help with these 10 tips.
- When buying asparagus, choose firm stalks with plump, tightly closed tips. Check the stem ends to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriveled or dried out.
- To keep asparagus fresh longer, store it similarly to how you would fresh flowers and herbs.
- Keep the rubber band on to hold the bunch together and trim an inch off the ends of the asparagus.
- Stand the asparagus up in a glass or jar with about an inch or two of water, making sure all the ends are sitting in the water.
- Loosely cover the asparagus with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Broiling or roasting the asparagus intensifies its inherent sweetness. Steamed or boiled asparagus is great for salads.
- Peeling the asparagus will eliminate most of the stringiness and remove any sand hiding in the fronds on the stalk. After a spear has been peeled, simply cut off the dry white part at the end.
- To roast asparagus, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place asparagus on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, tossing lightly to coat. Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until crisp-tender, lightly tossing twice during roasting. Season as desired after taking out of the oven.
- To blanch asparagus and serve warm, place spears in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Cover with about 2 cups of boiling salted water and let stand for 10 to 12 minutes until bright green and crisp-tender.
- To steam asparagus, lay the spears in a large skillet and top with 1 inch of water. Lightly salt the water and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Here are a few easy asparagus recipes to get you started!
For more asparagus recipe ideas, visit our Produce Basics – Asparagus recipe collection at the Savory Recipe Center!