One of my all-time favorite vegetables also happens to be a sign that spring is well on her way. (Finally!)
Yes asparagus, you either love it, you hate it or you’ve never actually had it and still claim to hate it.
I, personally, didn’t try asparagus until I was in college. My parents weren’t very experimental with vegetables, so we always had corn, potatoes, green beans and broccoli. No more, no less (unless you include peppers and mushrooms on pizza:)). Vegetables are arguably my favorite food group, so trying and loving asparagus wasn’t a big surprise for me.
Asparagus is the first vegetable of the season. So if you strive to eat locally and in season, load up on Asparagus now and let it carry you through the remainder of spring and early summer. It will be at its peak nutrient quality with its lowest price, so don’t be afraid to splurge. (You rebel, you.)
For a fun way to add more color to your plate, try the purple or white varieties.
Green Asparagus, like all plants, gets the green coloring from chlorophyll. Chlorophyll absorbs sunlight and uses it as energy for photosynthesis (production of CO2 and water). Green asparagus is more common than the purple and white varieties making it less expensive and more readily available at the store or farmers’ market.
White Asparagus is grown in the dark. Because plants cannot product chlorophyll with out light, the asparagus remains white in color. (Think of it as the vampire of the vegetable world.) White asparagus tends to have thick and bitter skin, so you’ll want to remove the outer layer before cooking/eating.
Purple Asparagus originated from Italy and contains antioxidant rich anthocyanins (red/purple pigment) on the outside layer. The inside layers are green or creamy white. When cooking purple asparagus, it will turn green when exposed to heat. To keep the beautiful purple hue, eat it raw or cook it with an acid (lemon juice or vinegar).
Fun Fact: Ever notice that eating asparagus makes your urine smell funny? This is totally normal. When asparagus is digested in our bodies, sulfurous amino acids break down into a rather smelly chemical excreted through our pee. Researchers used to believe that only a certain percentage of people were able to break down the smelly chemical component that causes stinky pee, but new research reveals that everyone has stinky pee after eating asparagus, but only ~25% of the population have the gene that allows them to smell the sulfurous component. Interesting, right?
Prep and Cooking: Asparagus is super easy to prepare or can be eaten raw. Be sure to experiment with cooking methods (grilled, pan fried, boiled, blanched, steamed, roasted, etc) and seasonings (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, salt, garlic, parmesan cheese, et cetera…)
First time trying asparagus? Have a good recipe to share? Let us know in the comments!