Asparagus may be a finicky vegetable, but there are lots of reasons to eat it. It has lycopene, which lowers cancer risk, aids cognitive function, and promotes prostate health. Asparagus also contains Vitamin C, which helps the body resist infection, prevent cataracts, and regenerate tissue.
Asparagus is a source of the soluble fiber inulin, which can suppress your appetite. There’s also an array of B vitamins in this popular vegetable, including B1, B2, B3 and B6. It also encourages digestive health and contains vitamin K, which acts as a natural diuretic. On top of that, along with vitamin K, asparagus contains folate and unique antioxidant asparaguisic acid for anti-inflammatory support. Depression has been linked in some studies to low levels of folic acid so eating foods rich in this B-vitamin can help alleviate symptoms and adjust nutrient levels in the body.
And, you will be pleased to know that asparagus is on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Clean Fifteen™ list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues along with sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods and tests found low total concentrations of pesticide residues on them.
Best of all, asparagus is delicious, but must be very fresh and picked early in the season or it will have woody stalks. Don’t cut the dry ends of the stalks. Instead, bend the stalks until the dry ends break off. Otherwise you risk serving chewy, inedible asparagus parts that your guests won’t enjoy. This citrusy side dish can be served hot or cold and is good cut up and served in a salad.
This dish was inspired by risotto but requires far less stirring. Using home-made chicken stock instead of store bought will make it taste far better.
Benefits: Oats contain avenanthramides, a group of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory, anti-itch, and anti-irritant properties. Asparagus adds folic acid, produces energy on a cellular level and helps your brain function well.
4 cups chicken stock
¼ tsp. minced garlic
1 cup steel-cut oats (I prefer McCann’s Irish)
1¾ cups chopped asparagus
½–1 cup shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese to taste
⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pot, simmer the oats, uncovered, in the chicken stock with the garlic. Stir frequently for 20–30 minutes or until the oats are crunchy on the outside but soft inside.
2. Five minutes before the oats are done, add the asparagus.
3. When the oats and asparagus are cooked through, add the Parmesan cheese and stir until it’s completely incorporated.
4. Remove from the heat and stir in the pepper. Garnish with additional Parmesan if desired.
2 lbs. asparagus spears, ends snapped off
4 Tbs. orange juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. sea salt or salt substitute
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1. Blanch the asparagus in a large pot of boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Drain and plunge into an ice bath. Pat dry with a paper towel.
2. If serving cold: Wrap the spears in a paper towel to retain moisture and chill in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours. Then whisk the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl and toss with the chilled spears.
3. If serving warm: Whisk the orange juice, lemon juice, and salt and toss with the asparagus. Saute the garlic and ginger in the oil over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the spears and saute for 2-3 more minutes or until the asparagus is heated through. Season with salt and serve.
Chef’s Note: You can start this recipe a day or so ahead of time. After blanching the asparagus, wrap them in a paper towel to retain moisture and refrigerate until you are ready to complete the recipe.