Spring Into — Asparagus!
Have you ever grown asparagus? It’s a pretty intense process. An asparagus crown is planted about 12” deep in sandy soil. After that, is usually not harvested for the first three years, allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system. Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer (in North Carolina, asparagus are in season in March and April). The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10 inches in 24 hours. Early in the season, there may be four or five days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours. A well-cared-for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
Asparagus is high in vitamin K and folate. It also provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese and selenium. It contains chromium, a trace mineral that helps insulin do its job transporting glucose. It’s also especially rich in glutathione, a detoxifying compound that can help destroy carcinogens. For this reason, asparagus may help fight or protect against certain cancers, including bone, breast, lung and colon cancers.
Asparagus is extremely low in calories at about 20 per serving (five spears), has no fat, and is low in sodium. It can be eaten raw or cooked; however, cooking times affect health benefits. So, let’s Spring Into Spring with this very simple, very delicious recipe for Asparagus!
Salty and savory, the roasting method kills the natural bitterness of asparagus. Try it next to grilled fish or lamb.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (Optional)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (Optional)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (Optional)
- Step 1
Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C).
- Step 2
Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
- Step 3
Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
To remove woody ends, grab stalk of asparagus at either end and bend until it snaps. It will naturally snap where it starts to get tough.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
123 calories; protein 3.3g; carbohydrates 5.2g; fat 10.8g; cholesterol 1.7mg; sodium 471.4mg.
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