Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yes this calls for an exclamation point. That's just how excited I was to see asparagus at the market on Wednesday. Only one vendor had asparagus. Asparagus kicks off the spring season here in North Carolina as most farmer's markets are opening over the next few weeks in Raleigh (Durham and Carrboro markets are already open).
Asparagus can be white, green or purple. Green is the most common. Growing white asparagus involves more labor as its grown undergrown to keep it from turning green (from chlorophyll). The purple variety is sweeter, and the color is caused by the healthy phytonutrients, anthocyanins.

Asparagus is low in calories, but contains more protein than other vegetables. Asparagus is a great source of potassium, vitamin K, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B6. It’s also a good source of iron, fiber, protein, niacin, and phosphorus. Pick the darkest stalks, since they contain the most nutrients. To extend shelf life, wrap a wet paper towel around the end of the stalks, and store in the refrigerator.

Asparagus also contains glutathione. Glutathione is a small protein that is involved in detoxification and protects against some kinds of cancer. Yes, asparagus does make your urine smell. Some believe this is caused by the amino acid asparagine, which causes asparagus to have a diuretic effect. Others contribute the sulfur compounds to cause this funky smell.

Recipe ideas:
Roast it. Toss asparagus with a little olive oil, roast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, season with lemon juice, shredded parmiggiano-reggiano (or manchego) cheese.
Steam it. Add asparagus to salads or omelettes with scallions and herbs.
Top homemade pizzas with asparagus, goat cheese, and shitakes.
Pickle it.
Puree it, and make this soup.

Murray, 2005. p. 162-164.

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