Spring asparagus is here and cooking up elegant spears of bright green asparagus takes only minutes and supplies cancer-preventing compounds in any meal. All asparagus is a good source of the B vitamin folate and vitamins C and A, as well as antioxidant compounds like glutathione and rutin.
Here’s a few tips to cook and enjoy this versatile vegetable.
1. Refrigerate raw asparagus like a bouquet, upright with the bottoms of the stalks in a jar or container of water and the tops covered with a plastic bag up to four days.
2. Try not to waterlog and overcook asparagus by boiling it too much. Instead, preserve its color freshness and crunch by microwaving it or steaming over water for just a few minutes.
3. After washing the asparagus, break or cut at an inch or two off the tougher bottom ends of the stalks. Then cut it into smaller pieces or leave the stalks intact.
4. On the stove, steam thin asparagus over boiling water for about 2 minutes until it’s bright green but the spears are still a bit crunchy; thick asparagus takes about 3 minutes.
5. To microwave, spread spears or chopped asparagus on a microwave-safe plate, sprinkle with a tablespoon of water and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave it for 2-3 minutes (3-4 minutes more for thicker stalks).
6. To grill or roast asparagus, brush it with olive oil and grill for 10 minutes. To roast, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Spread oiled asparagus stalks in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle a teaspoon of lemon juice, soy sauce or balsamic vinegar on it if you wish. Roast for about 12-15 minutes.
You can save cooked asparagus chunks to use in an omelette or salad. Make a simple soup by puréeing steamed asparagus, putting it a pot and adding chicken or vegetable broth, a dollop of low-fat sour cream if you wish, plus seasonings like a dash of paprika and white pepper. Stir-fried asparagus goes well with Asian flavors like sesame oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, Chinese 5-spice powder and scallions.
For ideas, try our new Healthy Recipe for Asparagus with Parmesan – it adds a low-fat sauce that keeps taste satisfying and calories low.