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Asparagus, the Vegetable of the Week

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring just screams asparagus to me. I especially like pairing asparagus and fresh mushrooms in a pasta dish based on an olive oil and garlic sauté as the sauce. So simple so good!
Asparagus are very low in calories but they are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of folic acid, vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C. They contain calcium, potassium, and are loaded with fiber. Asparagus is an excellent detoxifier and diuretic.

8 major health benefits:
1 - can detoxify our system
2 - has anti-aging functions
3 - is considered an aphrodisiac
4 - can protect against cancer
5 - reduces pain and inflammation
6 - can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
7 - reduces the risk of heart disease
8 - can help prevent birth defects


Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt / pepper to taste
2 pounds asparagus stalks, washed and trimmed

In a jar or bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Blanch the asparagus in lightly,salted boiling water for about 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; do not overcook. Remove from heat and run under cold water to stop the cooking; drain well.

Toss asparagus with enough lemon vinaigrette to lightly coat.

Arrange asparagus on serving platter or individual serving plates.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Raw Asparagus Oriental Style

I will eat asparagus raw if it is nice and young. Asparagus like that tends to be tender and sweet. I will make a similar recipe to the one I make above but I do not blanch it. I use sesame oil in place of olive. When it is finished I will sprinkle with some fresh sesame seeds and also top with some thinly sliced red pepper. Makes a nice meal.

Raw Food Carrot Asparagus Curry

Roasted Asparagus
1 pound of asparagus
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
salt/pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim the woody ends from the asparagus, generally about an inch from the bottom of the stalk. Spread the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the minced garlic, salt and pepper, and roll to coat thoroughly.

Roast the asparagus until lightly browned and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, giving the pan a good shake about halfway through to turn the asparagus


Asparagus Frittata

1 bunch asparagus
6 - 8 eggs
2 Tbs water, some use milk
6 cloves garlic – I like garlic you can use less
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

Peel and blanch the asparagus spears. Cut asparagus into 1/2" pieces.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, salt, and pepper. I add a splash of water some people us e milk.

In a large oven proof skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. C cook eggs for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom with spatula. When eggs are mostly cooked but still very wet, stop stirring. You want to see cooked egg scattered throughout, but loose egg in between.

Continue cooking on stove for another minute so underside sets.

Place the skillet under broiler. Watch carefully while top browns. This will take 2-4 minutes

Remove skillet from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes to finish cooking in center.

Cut in wedges and serve.

Note: some people will add slices of cooked potato and/or top with cheese – your option – I don’t

Asparagus Cashew Pilaf

1/4 cup butter
2 ounces uncooked spaghetti, broken
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/4 cups uncooked jasmine rice
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup cashew halves

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Increase heat to medium, and stir in spaghetti, cooking until coated with the melted butter and lightly browned.

Stir onion and garlic into the saucepan, and cook about 2 minutes, until tender. Stir in jasmine rice, and cook about 5 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth. Season mixture with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and cook 20 minutes, until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.

Place asparagus in a separate medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender but firm.

Mix asparagus and cashew halves into the rice mixture, and serve warm.

Asparagus Risotto

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
Sea salt
Cooking liquid combined with beef, poultry or vegetable broth to make 7 cups
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cups arborio rice
Fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Braise asparagus in large pan filled with about 2 inches of water (asparagus should fit in one layer across bottom of pan), covered, about 5 minutes. Remove asparagus (reserve water) and rinse with cool water to prevent further cooking. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces and set spear tips aside to add to dish once it is cooked. Pour cooking water into large pot and add enough beef broth to make 7 cups of liquid. Keep water simmering over low heat, as you'll be adding this to the rice throughout its cooking.

In large heavy pot, add 1 tablespoon butter, olive oil and minced onion. Cook onion until nearly translucent over medium-high heat. Add asparagus stalks (not the spear tips) and stir well. Add rice, stirring quickly. Add 1/2 cups simmering broth and cook, stirring constantly, until water is absorbed. Repeat process till rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Final consistency should be creamy and the rice tender but slightly firm at the center. Turn off heat and stir in asparagus spear tips, pepper, 2 tablespoons butter and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately.

Vegan Asparagus Tart

500 grams white asparagus
4-6 sheets puff pastry
1 tomato, cut in eighths
8 tbs. chickpea flour (gram flour)
5 tbs. soy milk
3 tbs. vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
cayenne pepper

Peel the asparagus and cut off the woody, lower part of the stem.
Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces, and cook until al dente.
Remove from the hot water and set aside.
Depending upon the size (9 inch or so) of your tort pan, pie plate or quiche dish, you will need 4-6 sheets of puff pastry.
Oil your pastry dish using, and place the puff pastry to cover the bottom and sides evenly.
(You can over lap a bit, it won’t be a problem).
Using a fork prick the bottom and side of the dough.
In a blender, place the soy milk, chickpea flour, the tomato and vinegar.
Pulse to make a smooth batter.
Season with salt pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 (F).
Place the asparagus pieces evenly in the pastry dish and pour the batter over the asparagus.
Smooth the batter to make sure it is spread evenly.
Place in the oven to bake for 25- 30 minutes.
It is done when the center is firm.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Thai Asparagus with Shrimp

1/2lb bunch of asparagus
8 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 30 count)
3 Tbls of vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ cup of stock or water
1 ½ Tbls of oyster sauce
1 Tbls of soya sauce
2 tsps of fish sauce
1 tsp of sugar

Cut the woody ends off of the asparagus and discard the. Cut the remaining stalk into 1 or 1 ½ inch slices.

Heat the oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium high. When the oil is hot, toss in the garlic and stir fry it for about 15 seconds, or until the garlic is good and fragrant.

Immediately toss in the shrimp and asparagus and turn the heat up to high. Add in the stock or water (chicken stock works well here, as does vegetable stock. Miso stock would probably also work well.)

Stir fry the vegetables until the asparagus is tender crisp and the shrimp is cooked. Medium asparagus spears will cook through in about 3 nutes, which should leave you with perfectly cooked shrimp as well.

Add in the sauces and sugar, and taste for seasoning

Chicken and Asparagus Stirfry

3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 pound chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces
1 carrot, julienned

In a glass dish, stir together soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, and cornstarch. Add chicken pieces and coat well with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add garlic and fry until softened. Reserving the marinade, add chicken followed by the scallions, asparagus and carrots. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink.

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