Asparagus: tasty spring vegetable

I love asparagus! I grew up on steamed asparagus that my mom usually served with lemon butter. More recently I have had asparagus baked into a casserole and roasted asparagus. Mmmmm! There are just so many delicious ways to eat asparagus.

Fresh asparagus is still best in the spring. But frozen aparagus can be used for many dishes too. In Michigan we have quite a few asparagus farms. One year I even bought 70 pounds of asparagus from a local farmer. It was only 99 cents per pound! We ate a lot of asparagus and froze a lot of asparagus. And, surprisingly, 70 pounds didn’t last very long.

There are a few varieties of asparagus, the most common being one of the green asparagus cultivars. Jersey knight, or Mary Washington. But there are also purple and white asparagus varieties.

I have been trying to start my own asparagus bed for a few years now, but the deer eat it, and the weeds have choked it out. This year I am going to plant it in a raised bed in the fenced in garden. I will eventually have asparagus. The usual recommendation is to wait 3 years to let it establish before harvest.

It seems that asparagus has grown in popularity in recent years. As people work to make healthier diet choices asparagus is an obvious choice. It is tasty and tender for one, and it is high in fiber and folate. It contains chromium which helps insulin to facilitate the use of glucose by the body’s cells too. Asparagus is also high in vitamin A, vitamin K, antioxidants, and is a natural diuretic.

My favorite recipes for asparagus follow.

Creamy asparagus soup

My creamy asparagus soup is a dairy free version. First sautee onions and garlic in a stock pot with some olive oil. Then add lots of peeled potatoes, and asparagus. Cover potatoes and asparagus with chicken broth and boil until potatoes are soft enough to blend. Cool the soup enough to ladle into blender. Then blend until smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you make a large batch you will have to blend in several batches. This soup is great fresh, or frozen and reheated. When I was in nursing school, I would even eat it cold from a canning jar while commuting to classes. I make this soup different every time depending on how much of each ingredient I add. It always turns out delicious. More veggies for a thicker soup, more broth for a thinner soup.

Roasted Asparagus 

This is by far the easiest recipe for asparagus. Place asparagus in a single layer on a cookie tray. I like to use my stoneware pan for even heat. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. Flip asparagus and roast for 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve. Delicious. I have to roast at least 2 or 3 pounds with a meal to keep everyone happy. If your asparagus is really thin, or really thick you may need to adjust the time in the oven. You definitely don’t want to leave it in too long.

Plant a small bed of asparagus with me this spring, and commit to this tasty and healthy vegetable! I am going to plant green and purple and white, some of each variety that I can find. This way I am building up the variety in my diet for the long term.

If you have a favorite way to eat asparagus, or a favorite variety, please share with us in the comments below.

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