Article

All about asparagus



If it’s spring then it must be asparagus season!  Find out how to choose and store asparagus so it stays fresh longer. Check out the recipes below for some quick, nutritious and delicious ways to use asparagus.

Nutrition Spotlight! 

Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, which helps to build new red blood cells and lowers the risk of having a baby with birth defects. It may also help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Asparagus is also a source of vitamin A and vitamin C

Buying local 

Fresh Ontario asparagus is in season May to June. Look for the Foodland Ontario logo or ask your store manager when shopping to know if your asparagus is grown locally. When you buy local food, you support farmers so they can keep producing high quality, affordable food we can all enjoy.

Shopping and Storing

Choose asparagus spears that are straight, crisp and have tight green or purple tips. Whether you choose thick or thin spears is a matter of personal taste - both will be delicious!

To store asparagus, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel and then cover with plastic wrap. You can also stand the ends up straight in a container of water.

Asparagus can be stored for 4-5 days in the refrigerator, but to make the most of their fresh spring flavour, eat them as soon as possible. Asparagus can be frozen or canned. It’s a great way to eat local all year long and take advantage of seasonal produce when it’s a good buy. 

What is white asparagus?

To produce white asparagus, farmers cover the vegetable with mud and dirt while it grows so that it doesn’t get sunlight. Sunlight would cause the white asparagus to produce chlorophyll, which would then turn the asparagus green.   Only a small percentage of all the asparagus grown in Ontario is the white variety.

White asparagus is considered a delicacy in Europe and you may find that it is more expensive than its green cousin. It is slightly thicker in size (which may require some peeling) but it also thought to be milder in taste than green asparagus and more tender.

White or green asparagus will work in most recipes.

Preparing

Asparagus is quick and easy to prepare in a variety of ways. Perfect for busy nights when you want a no-fuss dish!

Wash the asparagus in cold water to remove sand or dirt. Hold the asparagus by its end and snap off the woody part of the spear. Thick spears may sometimes require some peeling to remove the tough outer layer.

The less you cook your asparagus, the more flavourful and crisp it will be. Thin spears can cook up in less than three minutes. Thicker spears may take slightly longer but you can speed up their cooking by cutting an “x” with your knife in the bottom of each stalk.

Here are some different ways to prepare asparagus

  • Keep asparagus crisp and green by steaming in a tightly covered pot for 4-8 minutes. Serve with light mayo or a sprinkle of lemon.
  • Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and lemon, and then roast in the oven. Grate a little parmesan cheese over the hot asparagus and serve.
  • Take advantage of the warmer weather and grill asparagus on the barbeque.
  • Teach the kids to prepare their own asparagus for an afternoon snack. Cover asparagus with 2 tbsp of water and place in microwave on high for 4-6 minutes. Serve with some light ranch sauce for dipping. *And don’t forget to remind them about microwave safety.
  • Add asparagus to soups, salads, pastas, stir-fries, eggs and other favourite dishes.

Here are some recipes to try:

Grilled Asparagus and Sweet Potato with Curry

Baked Springtime Risotto

Asparagus and Tomato Salad

Ontario Asparagus and Chicken Pasta Salad with Zesty Dressing, Foodland Ontario

 

Last Update – April 25, 2017

Mail Icon Phone Icon

If you have questions about what you've read here, or other questions about food, nutrition or healthy eating, click to email our Registered Dietitians or call 1-877-510-5102.