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Amazing asparagus


Published: 06/27/2012

by Roslyn Ralph

There are many things to look forward to with the arrival of spring, and locally grown asparagus is definitely one

of them. Asparagus is a member of the lily family and the spears grow from a crown planted about a foot deep, ideally in sandy

 soil. There is a six- to seven-week period in the spring and early summer during which spears are produced. When spear

production is over, ferns and red berries appear and the plant prepares itself for next spring.


Nutritionally, asparagus has much to offer. There are fewer than four calories per spear and they contain no fat or

cholesterol. A typical serving has only 3 grams of carbohydrates. It is a good source of fibre and vitamin B6, and an excellent source of folic acid.


When choosing asparagus, look for straight, bright-green stalks and tight, compact tips. It keeps in the refrigerator for up

 to two days. To pre pare, break off the bottom of the spear where it snaps easily and rinse thoroughly to get out any sand.


Cooking asparagus is easy. Place the spears in a shallow pan of boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender

crisp. You can steam or microwave asparagus as well. To steam, place on a steamer over boiling water for 5-7 minutes.

In the microwave, arrange the spears in a microwave-safe dish, add two tablespoons of water, cover and cook at the high

setting for 4-6 minutes.


Plain and simple is a great way to enjoy the joys of amazing asparagus, but if you are looking for something a little

different, here are a couple of ideas for serving this versatile vegetable.

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus takes on a wonderful, rich flavour when grilled. Serve it as a side dish on its own or

add it to a mixture of other grilled veggies. Serves 4.


1-1/2 lb. fresh asparagus

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Toss asparagus with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Prepare barbecue and set to medium-high heat. Arrange spears

on grill and turn occasionally, cooking them for about five minutes or until they are tender.

Chilled Asparagus with Tarragon Vinaigrette

This makes a lovely side dish. Serves 4.


1-1/2 lb. fresh asparagus

2 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and

finely chopped

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. minced shallot

1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard

1-1/2 tsp. fresh tarragon, finely chopped, or

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Steam asparagus for 3-6 minutes until just tender. Transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Drain and pat dry with paper towel. Set aside. Combine vinegar, shallots, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly

whisk in olive oil. Stir in tarragon. Chill dressing and asparagus in the refrigerator for about one hour. To serve, gently toss

chilled, cooked asparagus in dressing and arrange on a serving plate or platter. Sprinkle with chopped egg.


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