Asparagus is a spring vegetable native to Europe, Africa and Asia. To maximise its in season, nutritional value, now is the time to be enjoying it.
Silica is a mineral which is important for healthy bones, smooth skin, shiny hair and strong nails. Eating asparagus is an easy way to absorb more of this mineral.
As well as silica, asparagus is also a good source of fibre, vitamins A, B1, C and K as well as folate and iron. It offers small amounts of vitamin E, B2 and the minerals potassium, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, copper and calcium.
Some people notice a pungent smell from their urine after eating asparagus. This is a normal reaction due to the body metabolizing the sulfur compounds.
You can find asparagus in green, white, and even purple varieties. Look for stalks that are dry and tight and avoid those that are soft, limp or wilted.
Asparagus can be kept fresh by wrapping the stem ends in a wet paper towel and storing in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge or leaving the spears in a glass with a small amount of water in it. Asparagus can be eaten raw or cooked.
Young asparagus stems can be eaten whole, however, larger, thicker asparagus may need to have the bottoms removed as they become tough and woody as they age. When preparing asparagus, simply press the bottom end of the spear between your thumbs and forefingers and they will easily snap off at the woody end.
Fortunately, the trend of soggy canned asparagus in white bread rolls has passed. Nowadays we can enjoy this delicious vegetable in many delicious ways.
Here are some ideas of how to incorporate more asparagus in your daily diet:
§ Add a handful of freshly blanched asparagus to an omelette or scrambled eggs with salmon and hollandaise.
§ Sauté asparagus in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic. Add roughly chopped toasted almonds. Season with freshly ground black pepper and fresh lemon juice and rind as a side dish.
§ Add chopped asparagus to your next salad or wrap.
§ Wrap with bacon and cook on the barbeque or under the grill.
§ As a side dish, with tahini dressing (recipe below).
Asparagus with tahini dressing
24 spears fresh asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari to make it gluten-free)
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp warm water
1 large clove garlic, crushed
Cook asparagus in enough lightly salted boiling water to cover. Cook 3 minutes then drain and refresh under cold water to retain colour and crunch.
Shake all dressing ingredients together in a jar. Drizzle over the top of the asparagus and enjoy.
Article published in Otago Daily Times, November 2016