By Chef Selwyn Richards
Do you like asparagus? Not everyone does. In fact, some people say they don’t like the vegetable but, it may be more that they’ve never really tried it. Love it or hate it, unless you know how to cook it and use it, you may be missing out on a delectable treat.
Asparagus has long been prized as a delicacy but, did you know it was also used medicinally, in ancient India and parts of Asia? Asparagus contains a component called saponins, which are believed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. They are also believed to aide in maintaining blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Asparagus is high in vitamin K and several of the B vitamins. It contains vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, manganese and potassium. All in all, if you want to choose a vegetable that is nutritious, as well as delicious, you can’t go wrong choosing the lowly asparagus.
Choose asparagus that is young and tender. Growing your own will ensure you can pick it at the right time, to enjoy its goodness. Thicker asparagus will have to be peeled because the stem can be stringy and tough. Wash the vegetable and then cook it whole.
Ways to use asparagus
> An easy way to prepare asparagus is to heat five or six tablespoons of vegetable, or chicken broth, in a skillet. When you begin to see bubbles, add the asparagus to the pan and cover it. Allow the asparagus to sauté/steam for about five minutes. Remove them from the pan and then toss them with balsamic vinegar.
> Add sliced asparagus to your favorite pasta; season it with rosemary, tarragon or thyme, fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil.If you have leftover asparagus, don’t throw it away. Chop it up and add to the next morning’s omelet. Not only will this use up the asparagus, it will add an extra surprise to breakfast.
> How about grilling asparagus? If you’re careful, you can place the asparagus spears on the grill for a minute, or two, to get a nice char on them. Turn them and cook for another minute on the other side. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan cheese. When the asparagus comes off the grill, toss them with the dressing.
> Finally, you can steam asparagus and then sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Some people add dressing, but the vegetable tastes delicious with nothing more than simple seasonings.
If you think you won’t enjoy asparagus, now that you know some different methods for preparing it, you may want to give it a try. Not only is asparagus good, it is also good for you.
Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone — (905) 619-1059.