By Simone Jennings, RD
I remember as a small child spending time in the garden picking asparagus with my grandma, crisp green shoots that she would later cook for dinner.
At the time I thought it was a horrible tasting vegetable that no amount of butter or salt could make edible.
Fast forward years later and now my two year old seems to have the same opinion about it that I did as a child.
Oh well, more for me because as an adult I’m a huge fan of asparagus and can’t get enough this time of year when it’s in season.
According to my husband I’ve been going a little over board lately with asparagus making a nightly appearance on our dinner table, but it goes out of season so fast I figure we might as well get our fill while we can.
In B.C. asparagus is in season in April and May, so hit your local farmers market to get it before it’s gone.
Asparagus is not only tasty but is also rich in nutrients. Like other dark green vegetables it is a great source of folate, a nutrient that helps prevent birth defects and is particularly important for pregnant women and women of child bearing age.
Asparagus is also a good source of fibre and vitamins C and K, and is very low in calories. As well it contains a number of antioxidants that are important for maintaining good health and warding off chronic disease.
My favorite ways to cook asparagus are grilled or roasted. This way you get great flavor and texture plus nutrients are retained better then with steaming or boiling.
Here is how to make a simple and tasty side dish:
Snap off the tough bottoms of the asparagus by grasping each end and bending it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness, usually 2/3 of the way down the spear.
Toss asparagus in olive oil until lightly coated then sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Pan fry or grill on the barbecue for several minutes per side or until fork tender. The asparagus should start to get brown spots but not char.
You can also prepare the asparagus by following steps one and two and then roast it in the oven at 425° degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes.
Simone Jennings, RD, is Community Nutritionist with Interior Health