By Lisa Kelly of The Food Trust
Over the next several weeks, asparagus will be one of the main attractions at Philadelphia markets! The supermodel of early springtime produce, long and lanky asparagus can be prepared in countless ways. It’s especially great grilled, seared in a pan, added to soup, quickly steamed, and even pickled!
- It takes about three years for asparagus to grow from seed to harvestable size—the first season’s stalks are less than a centimeter thick. Once the ground defrosts each spring, asparagus can grow up to six inches a day.
- Asparagus is a great source of fiber and vitamins A, C, E and K. It is also high in folate, which supports brain health and can help protect against depression and cancer.
- When shopping for asparagus, choose spears that are mostly straight and perky. Stems shouldn’t be too woody or split too much. Thinner asparagus stalks are more tender, but thicker spears have a stronger flavor and are more fleshy.
Check out the following recipes for asparagus!
- Mark Bittman’s recipe for Grilled Asparagus brings together the fresh taste of asparagus and parsley with the brightness of lemon juice. It can also be recreated indoors with a cast-iron skillet. Pro Tip: if grilling asparagus, skewer a few spears together with thin skewers (one at the base of the stems and one just under the heads). This will make flipping the spears easier, and lower the chances of a rogue spear slipping in between the grilling grates.
- Asparagus is a great addition to quiches and other savory breakfast and brunch dishes. O, The Oprah Magazine’s recipe for an Asparagus and Potato Egg Bake can be assembled the night before—perfect for popping in the oven the next day while you wait for the first batch of coffee to brew.
- This Ham and Asparagus Macaroni from Better Homes & Gardens is a grownup version of mac & cheese—perfect comfort food.
- Fresh spring vegetables often get farmers’ market customers thinking of pickling, and this recipe for Refrigerator Asparagus Pickles from foodpreservation.about.com doesn’t require any special canning equipment. The pickled asparagus spears are ready to be eaten in just three days!
- Finally, even though the days are finally longer and warmer, the nights can still be chilly. This creamy Asparagus and Potato Soup from Vegetarian Times will wrap you in warmth at the end of the day.