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Steamed or creamed, asparagus deserves a spot on your spring table

KEARNEYSVILLE – Asparagus is a vegetable left off many dinner tables. Many youngsters – and some adults, too – will curl up their noses at its mention. But this vegetable is high in Vitamin B6 and C and offers fiber, making it an excellent choice for a healthy, delicious side dish.

I t comes in three colors; white, green or purple, although the green variety is most common. Some people prefer one kind or another, but size is not necessarily an indication of good quality. Since this vegetable deteriorates rapidly, it’s important to select bundles that are refrigerated or on ice.asparagus-1

The first culinary sign of spring is asparagus shooting up from the soil. Americans generally cut them off to eat when they reach 7 to 9 inches in length, to prevent them from getting woody. It was a known fact the Europeans especially Germans would cover them with dirt, to block out the sunlight and produce white asparagus, which is more tender and less bitter.

Asparagus shows up in recipes for soups, sautéed or steamed and served with a cheese and or white sauce. Steamed seems to be the way to go for a quick dish. To prepare asparagus you rinse the spears and break off the tough ends. You can leave it in long spears and or cut into bite-sized pieces.

With the outdoor grilling season underway or approaching, Mary Valentine Boutte of Shepherd University shared a simple grilled asparagus recipe she prepares for her family.

Make sure the grill is hot. Clean and prepare your asparagus spears. Take 1 teaspoon olive oil and coat asparagus spears. You can also add seasoning of salt and pepper and sprinkle with lemon juice if desired. The charred smoky flavor of the grill will enhance the taste of the asparagus.

Place coated spears on top of grill, cover if desired for around 5 minutes, then turn spears over and grill other side. This makes an excellent side dish for a buffet or backyard barbecue.

A recipe for the busy family is crockpot asparagus soup. Using a 3½ – to 5-quart crockpot start with 2 pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed, with woody ends snapped off, chopped into inch-long pieces. Add to pot, cover with 5 cups chicken broth, and add 6 green onions, finely chopped.

Prepare 2 cups cubed peeled baking potatoes, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours, or until the potatoes are tender. Increase temperature to high. Use a strainer to dip the vegetables from the pot and purée until smooth. Return to the liquid remaining in the pot. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on high for 30 more minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and sour cream.

 

– Send feedback on this column to Patt Welsh at pwelsh@shepherd.edu

 

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