What’s green, spear-shaped, and makes your pee smell weird?
Hint: it also has one of the shortest growing seasons of any green vegetable, and you have to plant it three years before reaping any harvest.
Asparagus. Why you love it:
Nothing is better than fresh, young asparagus. All produce is at its best when eaten seasonally, but asparagus is actually nasty any other time of year – thick, woody stalks and flavorless tips. Yuck.
You can eat fresh asparagus raw, and it’s tender and slightly sweet. You can blanch it for a softer texture, and eat it hot or cold with a squeeze of lemon and some olive oil.
Add a few spears to a salad, include them in lettuce wraps or sandwiches, or just snack on them as described above.
Or, roast it in a 325° oven for twenty minutes, and get a nutty, slightly crunchy taste.
In the Spring, you can get a decent-sized bunch that yields about two servings. It’s SO easy to prepare – just snap off the woody end, rinse, and you’re good to go. Blanching asparagus takes two minutes – just drop into boiling water for one minute, then transfer to ice water right away.
Asparagus tart, asparagus frittata, asparagus wrapped in bacon….
Why it loves you (despite the pee thing):
- Fiber – healthy digestion, lower blood sugar
- Folate – strong bones, healthy blood
- Vitamins A, C, E, K
- Antioxidants – may help prevent certain cancers
- Natural diuretic – relieves water retention, helps kidneys
- Alkalizing – reduces acidity in the body (so, good for bones, digestion, and detoxifying)
- Fun fact: contains ideal 2:1 ratio of calcium & magnesium
If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that all the spring foods we’ve covered have similar health benefits, especially when it comes to detoxifying the blood and reducing inflammation.
That’s because the foods that grow in season carry the specific properties humans need at that time. Leafy greens, asparagus and berries provide the cleansing properties needed after a long winter of hunkering down with nothing but meat and stored food.
On some level, despite all our modern conditioning, your body still knows this intrinsically. It’s why you crave salads as soon as the weather warms up, or want to eat ALL the strawberries. It’s why a pineapple in December just seems wrong.
Sam’s favorite asparagus recipes:
Asparagus with Wasabi Mayo (adapted from the Food Network)
Serve this effortlessly fancy appetizer at your next cookout. Or just make it for yourself.
Total prep/cook time: 15 minutes
- 3 pounds thin to medium asparagus, trimmed
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 1 cup olive-oil mayonnaise
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons wasabi paste
Blanch asparagus in 2 batches in a large saucepan of boiling salted water 1 minute. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold running water to stop cooking. Drain well and pat dry. Toss in lemon juice and chill.
Whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, and wasabi paste until well combined. Taste and adjust flavors if necessary.
Serve asparagus with dip.
Asparagus & Goat Cheese Omelet
This is my favorite kind of recipe – it’s easy and fast, but it feels like an indulgence. I love a little flourish with my eggs.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
- 4-5 asparagus spears, trimmed, then cut into 2” pieces
- 2 eggs
- ¼ C almond milk (or preferred dairy)
- 1 tsp dried sage
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- ¼ goat cheese
- Sea salt & black pepper to taste
In a medium skillet (nonstick is easiest for this), heat some butter or oil. Add asparagus and cook about 3 minutes, until the color turns bright green.
Meanwhile, beat eggs with almond milk. Add garlic and sage to eggs.
Pour egg mixture over asparagus, shaking pan to distribute evenly. Let eggs cook about 30 seconds. With a spatula, pull eggs from the edges of the pan towards the center, allowing the uncooked egg to spread out. Season with salt and pepper.
At this point, you can cover the pan for about 3 minutes, allowing the eggs to set to your desired doneness. You can also repeat the pull-to-the-center technique periodically.
When eggs are cooked, crumble goat cheese over one half of the eggs. Slide the omelet onto a plate, folding the other half over to form the omelet.
If you want to be fancy, you can top with two whole asparagus spears in an “X” shape, a bit more goat cheese, and a dash of dried sage.
If you’ve ever considered shifting into a more seasonal diet, now is the time. Read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for some extra inspiration.