Asparagus Recipes: Ways to Enjoy These Spears of Spring
Spears of bright green asparagus are synonymous with spring. For most of the country, prime asparagus season begins in April, when you can find fresh-from-the-farm asparagus, big and round or small and thin. Peak season in Illinois lasts through late June. (Related: How to Grow Asparagus in Your Garden)
Why take advantage of this seasonal vegetable? For one, asparagus serves as an excellent source of fiber, folate and potassium. It also contains bone-building vitamin K, along with many antioxidants, including vitamins E, A and C. In fact, each spear of asparagus has just four calories and no fat or cholesterol.
Asparagus varieties include green, white or purple, with green the most common. When shopping, choose bright green asparagus stalks with purple-tinged tops. Look for stalks that have smooth skin, uniform color and a dry, compact tip. Avoid wilted or limp stalks, as shriveled stalks signify age.
To store asparagus, wrap the stem ends in damp paper towels for several days. To extend the life, refrigerate stalks, tips up, in a cup of shallow water.
To prepare, trim the woody ends from the asparagus spears. You can cook the spears as is, or peel the skin (with a potato peeler) to make the stalks more tender.
When I was growing up, we had a huge asparagus patch that required daily harvesting – one of my jobs growing up on the farm. My mother would serve fresh asparagus over toast with melted cheese on top.
Another easy recipe comes from my friend, Elizabeth. She trims the ends, places the asparagus spears in a cast-iron skillet, barely covering the spears with water, adds chopped onion and cooks until tender. Then she drizzles the stalks with a little bit of butter, a little lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Asparagus can be broiled, steamed, grilled, roasted or sautéed. Whether you enjoy your asparagus simply or a bit more upscale, this delicious, nutritious and versatile vegetable can inspire weekly meals. Find some of our favorite asparagus recipes below.