"A" For Asparagus

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Courtesy Ontario Asparagus Growers’ Marketing Board

As spears of asparagus emerge from the damp spring soils, they remind me of soldiers, as brave as lions, tall and majestic, bold and strong. Their heads reach upwards in a gesture of superior prowess and undeniable pride. As they rise from the earth, they know their nutritional value has won them an A for Amazing goodness. Asparagus contains folic acid, a form of B vitamin which helps in cell regeneration, prevention of heart disease, birth defects, and certain cancers. According to the Washington Asparagus Commission, it is one of the best food sources of folic acid, second only to orange juice. It also contains anti-oxidants and gluthathione, which aid in fighting off free radicals that are toxic to the body.

For weight watchers, asparagus should be your vegetable of choice because its high concentration of potassium, numerous minerals and amino acids, and low sodium content make it an effective diuretic, reducing water retention. One cup of asparagus only contains 43 calories and 8 carbohydrates with 4 grams of fiber (Livestrong.com, 2011).

Better yet, this hunk of a vegetable is in season right here in Ontario. With rainy May comes brilliant life in a cloak of green goodness. It’s available in all the freshness and flavour that locally grown food provides.

Here’s a quick asparagus recipe you can try:

Ginger Asparagus Salad

1lb Ontario asparagus, trimmed

1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp granulated sugar

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp minced sushi ginger

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

2 oz mesclun salad mix

1 small head radicchio separated

1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted

Steam or simmer asparagus until tender-crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Place in colander and refresh under cold running water; drain well and pat dry with paper towels. (Asparagus may be cooked several hours in advance.) Arrange in shallow dish large enough to hold it in single layer. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add garlic and ginger; combine well. Slowly whisk in sesame and canola oils and soy sauce; whisk in coriander. (Dressing may be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.) Pour over the asparagus and turn gently to coat well. Line serving platter with mesclun; arrange radicchio leaves round edge. Pile asparagus over top. Drizzle with any dressing left in dish. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve within 30 minutes or asparagus will discolour.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

For other great asparagus recipes and to learn more about this extraordinary vegetable visit:

http://www.asparagus.on.ca/ and http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/

 

Esther Lambert, Program Assistant

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