This photo was taken two years ago when we were in Tuscany in the spring. Just looking at it brings back such wonderful memories of Italy and of course, food!
Asparagus are a bold declaration of the wonders that Spring brings - their shoots breaking the surface and delivering us such a wonderful treat after a long, wet winter. I'm starting to see them in the stores and hopefully, we will be able to buy locally grown ones to feast on in a few more weeks.
Asparagus are not just a 'pretty face' - they have many wonderful attributes. For example, they are low in calories - 100 g of fresh spears amounts to about 20 calories. They provide a good source of roughage and are also a good source of anti-oxidants, folates, the B-complex group of vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K and minerals - especially copper and iron. Also, they contain small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
They also serve as a natural diuretic because of the high levels of the amino acid asparagine found in them. Anyone who eats them can attest to that :)
Apparently, it’s one of the cleaner vegetables available and some say, there is no need to buy it organic. If you are not familiar with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) you may want to check them out. Every year, this group compiles a list of 49 types of produce and rates the level of pesticide residues they contain. So yeah for asparagus!
Finally and best of all, they are delicious and easy to prepare. Here's a simple, yummy recipe now that Spring is just around the corner!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss asparagus and olive oil in a bowl until evenly coated. Place asparagus spears on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese (and/or almond meal) and salt onto asparagus until evenly distributed.
Cook until asparagus tips are cooked until tender about 15 - 20 minutes (depending on how firm or soft you like them); turning spears over after 10 minutes. Serve either hot as a vegetable or at room temperature on a bed of arugula greens with balsamic dressing drizzled over them.