Tuesday, April 27, 2010

42. Asparagus, Tender Crisp - Guilty Pleasure

The year I had my first producing asparagus bed coincided with financially hard times for our family. As I fixed asparagus night after night, I actually felt guilty eating it...to me, asparagus was a luxury vegetable...store prices for it were always high and even in good times, we had limited our purchase of asparagus to a few times a year; it was not a vegetable we had to have. Somehow,with the abundance my garden produced, I did not feel like I deserved to have so much...it was a guilty pleasure.

In this phase of my life, I no longer feel guilty eating asparagus, but I am grateful that I have it on my menu.

 Asparagus is a member of the lily family and the oldest known herb to human civilization. However, today most consider it to be a vegetable crop. Healthwise...asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Asparagus has no Fat, contains no Cholesterol and is low in Sodium. Asparagus seems to be one of those wonder foods...the Greeks believed the plant could cure everything from toothaches to heart ailments.

 The following is a partial list of what modern scientists have discovered about asparagus:

• Help prevent the growth of cancerous cells in the body.
• Helps control blood sugar levels.
• Helps prevent bladder and urinary tract infections.
• Lowers  blood pressure levels.
• Helps increase milk generation in nursing mothers.

I used to overcook asparagus until I saw it picked fresh and prepared on a gardening program on PBS...The Victory Garden which also happens to be television's longest running gardening show.  The Victory Garden has educated and entertained gardeners and would-be green thumbs since its debut in April 1975. I am thankful for what it did to help me in my asparagus preparation all those many years ago.

The process is quick, which is a benefit to maintaining the vitamin content, and it involves 2 steps.

Diane's Tender-Crisp Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus
Olive oil
Smart Balance Margarine
1/2 fresh lemon (optional)

Clean asparagus just prior to preparing. Dry with a paper towel.

  Hold the top of a spear between your thumb and fingers firmely with one hand, while bending the bottom of the spear with the other hand. The woody, lower portion will snap off, leaving the tender edible section. Collect all of the edible spear pieces and place on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut 1-inch pieces on the diagonal.
Step 1: Saute Asparagus
Meanwhile, heat a pan on med-high heat. When hot, add enough olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Add asparagus pieces all at once when oil is hot and stir fry with a wooden spoon for 4 minutes.

Step 2: Steam Asparagus
Immediately, lower heat to low and add 1/4 C water. Stir; cover pan with a lid to steam pieces. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until asparagus is tender crisp. Pour off water to a jar...save for soup. Add Smart Balance magarine and the juice of half a lemon. Stir and keep covered until ready to serve. The asparagus will maintain its vibrant green color and the flavor will be fresh and delicious.

Serving suggestions: Over rice, as a side dish, in soup, with oriental stir fry.

Note: May is National Asparagus Month


  1. Kenda Wrote: I just LOVE asparagus!


  2. Marian said: Thanks for reminding me of those wonderful springs many years ago when my father would bring in the asparagus. I just never seemed to get enough. You have an interesting way of cooking it. I think I would like it.