You might know asparagus as the super-healthy spring vegetable that's been rumored to make your pee smell funny. But aside from that strange side-effect, it's a nutrition powerhouse. Asparagus is packed with important nutrients, like thiamin, potassium, and vitamins C, K, and B6. It’s also a good source of glutathione, a compound that protects against cell damage, and each 5-ounce serving takes care of 60% of your recommended daily intake of folic acid. Another great thing about the green stalks: one serving contains 20 calories—that’s 4 calories a spear.
Before we get to the good stuff—six ridiculously easy recipes—we’ll walk you through how to pick out the best bunch of asparagus and what to do with it once you’re home.
How to Purchase:
- Look for firm, fresh spears and skip those that look shriveled.
- Keep in mind that asparagus spears that are larger in diameter will have a stronger flavor and be more tender when cooked.
- Take a look at the tips. They should be compact and not feel wet or slimy.
How to Prepare:
- Start by giving asparagus a good wash. Some stalks are grown in sandy soil and may require a little elbow grease to clean.
- Break or cut off the tough ends on each stalk. (Learn how to chop anything here.)
- You don’t have to peel asparagus, but you can. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the stalk.
- Roasted Asparagus: Place asparagus on a baking sheet, pop it into a 350°F oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. For quicker cooking, slice asparagus into 1-inch pieces and roast for roughly 10 minutes. (Get 5 tips for faster cooking here.)
- Boiled Asparagus: Cook asparagus for 5 to 8 minutes in boiling water for extra crisp spears.
- Grilled Asparagus: Toss asparagus spears with extra-virgin olive oil. Grill for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly charred and tender.
- Quinoa and Asparagus Salad: Toss cooked quinoa with balsamic dressing, cooked asparagus (boiled, grilled or roasted), and finish with crumbled feta cheese.
- Asparagus Stir-Fry: In a wok, add no more than 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Add chopped asparagus along with your other favorite stir-fry vegetables. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes and set aside. Next, stir-fry your favorite protein, like chicken or tofu, until completely cooked. Toss the vegetables and protein with your go-to stir-fry sauce, serve over brown rice, and you’re good to go.
If you’re up for a few extra steps, try this delicious recipe the next time you’re tempted to order delivery.
ASPARAGUS WHITE PIZZA
- Whole-wheat pizza dough or pizza shell
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 ½ cups of asparagus (cut into 1-inch pieces), cooked
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- Pre-heat oven to 425°F.
- Stretch the pizza dough or place the pizza shell on a baking sheet or pizza stone.
- Place the asparagus in a medium pot filled with enough water to cover the spears. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly cooked. Drain the asparagus.
- In a skillet, sauté the onions in 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil. Cook over medium heat until the onions begin to lightly brown (caramelize), about 5 minutes.
- Top the pizza shell with the caramelized onions and then finish with the shredded cheese, asparagus, and pine nuts.
- Bake until cheese is melted, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and slice.
Makes: 14 slices
Nutrition (per slice): 180 calories, 5 g fat (2 g sat fat), 5 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 27 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 9 g protein, 4% DV vitamin A, 5% DV vitamin C, 6% DV calcium, 10% DV iron
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