Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Asparagus: in Season Now!

Now that March has begun, Spring vegetables like Asparagus are coming into season. One of the easiest ways to eat well is to eat seasonally. When buying produce in season, it's at the peak of freshness and usually produced locally, so you'll be helping your local farmers and economy.

When we eat Asparagus, we eat the young shoots of the plant because once the flower's buds start to open, the stalk quickly becomes hard and strongly flavored. Asparagus is packed with vitamins and contains high levels of Vitamins B6, A, C, E & K, Calcium, Magnesium and Zinc to name a few. It's also high in dietary fiber and protein, so eat away!

Sure, it's common knowledge that asparagus can make your pee smell, but only 22% of the population possesses the genes required to recognize the smell, so hopefully you're in the majority! Regardless, it's only one unpleasant side effect of an incredibly flavorful, versatile and healthy vegetable. Also, it's kind of funny!

Asparagus is a prized food across the globe. The French boil or steam the stalks and serve it with hollandaise sauce, melted butter, olive oil and/or Parmesan cheese. In Asian cooking it's commonly stir-fried with meat into an entree. Asparagus can also be grilled, and it mighty tasty wrapped in bacon. In Europe, there's a strong following for white asparagus, which is called "white gold."

Much of the asparagus grown in the United States hails from California. It's so important to the local economy that there's an Asparagus Festival in Stockon, CA from April 15th to the 17th. If you're in the neighborhood, check it out!

To help you assemble a bounty of asparagus recipes, we fired up the FoodPair search engine and found a handful of great dishes from across the Web.

Grilled Pancetta-Wrapped Asparagus
So many foods are tasty wrapped in bacon or pancetta.
Ingredients in this recipe: olive oil, asparagus, pancetta

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
Steamed or roasted asparagus is a classic side dish.
Ingredients: olive oil, asparagus, lemon juice, lemon peel

Pan-Grilled Asparagus with Hollandaise
This classic French preparation is delicious anytime.
Ingredients in this recipe: olive oil, egg, asparagus, butter, lemon juice, black pepper, white wine vinegar

Cream of Asparagus Soup
This soup will be an instant hit at your dinner table.
Ingredients in this recipe: asparagus, butter, lemon juice, onion, heavy cream, chicken broth

Farfalle with Asparagus, Roasted Shallots & Blue Cheese
Go figure, asparagus is also great with pasta!
Ingredients in this recipe: olive oil, shallot, asparagus, breadcrumbs, blue cheese, farfalle

Asparagus Frittata
For breakfast, fold asparagus into a tasty frittata or omelet.
Ingredients in this recipe: olive oil, egg, asparagus, onion, Swiss Cheese, salt

Let's get cooking!

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