Spring has FINALLY sprung and the first of local field produce in Ontario is here: asparagus!
I seriously can't get enough. It's a super delicious way to fill half your plate with veggies and you have to eat it all now -- 'cause it's gone in June!
There's an endless array of ways you can enjoy asparagus, both raw and cooked.
Raw asparagus is crisp and mild and perfect for dipping, making it a tasty addition to a spring veggie tray. It's also great chopped or slivered into salads. To sliver, use a vegetable peeler to create long strips -- kind of like how you peel a carrot, only you eat the asparagus.
Try this Mango, Asparagus and Radish Salsa with chopped raw asparagus.
If you're cooking it -- go light on the time here my friends. Tender-crisp is what you're aiming for and it doesn't take much time at all! I roast it, grill it and pan fry it for about 5 minutes for thinner stalks. And usually I just add olive oil and pinch of flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Simplicity rules for asparagus in my books because I truly want to enjoy the asparagus. It's pretty darn special and it's only here for a little while.
Have you ever seen asparagus being picked?
I have and it totally wow'd me. It's quite an operation -- it's actually cut from the field by hand. Imagine riding along on a low bench, pulled behind a tractor, bending over for hours at a time to hand-cut asparagus. Yep, that's how it's done. I'm not sure how I thought it would be picked to be honest. But every time I bite into a stalk each spring, I appreciate that for a moment!
Also worth appreciating is the nutritional value that asparagus boasts.
Nutritionally speaking, asparagus is a little green powerhouse.
It's packed with nutrients like folate (heart healthy), vitamin K (strong bones) and iron (deliverer of oxygen through your body to keep you feeling energized).
Asparagus has prebiotic fibre which nourishes the good bacteria in your gut, promoting gut health. A healthy gut is linked to health and overall wellness.
It's also rich in an antioxidant (rutin) which is being explored for it's potential role in inflammation, improving brain function and managing blood sugar. While you'd have to eat a lot of it to get those benefits, asparagus definitely fits in an overall health-promoting diet.
Super Simple Asparagus Recipe Coming Up
Speaking of appreciating delicious and nutritious food, I was recently inspired by an avocado toast I had (three times in two weeks!) at a little cafe nearby me (Detour Café in Dundas Ontario). They use miso butter on the sourdough bread and it takes avocado toast to another dimension! The salty, umami flavour, paired with the creamy avocado and egg is out of this world.
I thought I'd give it a whirl on asparagus. And it was SO GOOD. So, I'm sharing with you! I hope you like it as much as I do. Play around with the ratio of miso to butter -- if you like a more pronounced miso flavour, add more. Really, there's no right or wrong way to devour this one!
It's super on its own as a side dish or make it into a meal: spread some of the miso butter on sourdough toast, top with miso-buttered asparagus and a soft cooked egg.
Sautéed Ontario Asparagus with Savoury Miso Butter
1 bundle of Ontario asparagus
1 tsp canola oil
2 tsp butter
1 tsp white miso paste *
How to make
1. Wash asparagus well and trim or break off woody (tough) ends.
2. Heat a large pan over medium-high. Add asparagus and drizzle with canola oil. Sauté for approximately five minutes or until tender-crisp. Time will depend on the thickness of the asparagus stalks.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix miso paste and butter until well combine. When the asparagus is cooked to your liking, add the miso butter to the pan and toss until all asparagus is coated. Enjoy!
* White miso is slightly sweet and used to add a complex, savoury flavour to dishes. In this recipe, white miso's salty bite pairs perfectly with asparagus. Buy it in the refrigerated section at the grocery store -- likely in the health food section.
Download this Miso Asparagus Recipe Here.