Fresh local asparagus is now available from farms in Armstrong. Look for it at the farm, farmers’ market, local fruit stands, and some grocery outlets.
Asparagus is one of my favourite spring vegetables and there are countless ways to prepare it. Steam, bake, grill, sauté or stir-fry; these quick-cooking, waterless methods will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus. It tastes best tender-crisp and bright green.
Asparagus is known to go back at least 3,000 years and has been used as a vegetable and as medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and many known health benefits.
Wash well and remove woody ends by grabbing the stalk of asparagus at either end and bend until it snaps. It will naturally snap where it starts to get tough.
Today’s recipes are simple side dishes. The first is a salty and savoury dish which goes well next to grilled fish or lamb; the second an Asian-flavoured delight for you to try. Remember — the worst thing you can do to asparagus is to overcook it! Tender crisp is perfect.
1 bunch fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.
Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
Grilled Soy-Sesame Asparagus
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Preheat grill for high heat.
In a bowl, mix sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and brown sugar. Place asparagus in the bowl, and toss to coat.
Lightly oil a fine-mesh grill grate. Place asparagus on grate, and cook 8 minutes, until tender but firm. Garnish with sesame seeds to serve. Yummy!
Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.