Choose carefully when buying fresh asparagus. Look for bright green stalks with tightly closed, compact tips. Stalks should be straight, firm and about 6 to 8 inches in length. Try to avoid asparagus with white butts because the white portion is unusable. One pound of fresh asparagus will make 4 servings.
Store fresh asparagus by wrapping the bottom of the stalks in a damp paper towel. Put them in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Plan to use within 2 days.
Prepare fresh asparagus by first breaking off the butt end of each spear where it snaps easily. Save the woody bases for soup stock if desired. Next, wash the stalks thoroughly and carefully to remove any sand from under scales.
Cook asparagus by steaming, boiling, microwaving, oven-roasting, or stir frying.
- To Steam: Lay asparagus in steamer basket and place over boiling water in saucepan. Cover and steam 5 to 7 minutes until asparagus is tender-crisp.
- To Microwave: Place 1 lb. washed asparagus spears in microwave-safe dish. Add 2 tbsp. water. Cover. Cook at HIGH for 4 to 6 minutes, rearranging spears once so bottom spears are moved to top until tender crisp. Keep covered until ready to serve.
- To Boil: Place asparagus, uncovered, in a skillet or saucepan and cover with boiling water. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes.
- To Oven-roast: Arrange 1 or 2 lbs. of asparagus spears in a single layer in a large shallow baking dish. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tbsp. vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 500 deg. F. (260 C.) for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender but still slightly firm.
- To Stir-fry: Cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces and cook in skillet or wok, using equal amounts of butter or oil, for 5 to 7 minutes.
Freezing: Prepare the asparagus as you would for cooking, then blanch. Group the stalks in small bundles. Bring large pot of water to boil. Drop the asparagus bundles into boiling water. After the water returns to boil, boil for one minute. Quickly lift out the stalks and immerse them into cold water. Leave for two minutes. Drain well, pat dry and package the asparagus in freezer bags. Seal and date package. Freeze immediately. Asparagus may be stored one year at -18 deg.C.
- Low in calories; just 20 calories per serving (8 medium spears)
- Fat and cholesterol free
- An excellent source of folacin
- A leading source of glutahione
- A good source of protein
- A significant source of thiamin and vitamin B6
- One of the richest sources of rutin, a drug which strenghtens capillary walls.
Asparagus is the leading natural source for two of nutrients that prevent disease and promote a healthy body: folacin and glutathione.