Have you been looking to impress that special someone with your greenmarket chops? Your specialized knowledge of what is in season? You would hardly know it from the cold snap we've been having in the Northeast, but asparagus season is back.
Not your average everyday vegetable, asparagus is seen as a true luxury.
In England, where white asparagus rules, the seasonality of this vegetable is celebrated and appears on restaurant menus in a large variety of dishes. In Germany, asparagus is known as the king of vegetables.
That's why asparagus is perhaps the perfect get-dressed-up-for-a-date vegetable. The vegetable you eat with a knife and fork.
While there are 300 species of asparagus around the world, the only one you really need to think about here is the green-speared Asparagus officinalis.
Maybe you just want to take the path of least resistance and order your asparagus right off the menu. That's perfectly reasonable.
But let's say you feel like getting a little adventurous in the kitchen. Here are a couple of ideas.
First step is to hit the green market, farm stand, or the local supermarket and search for the tender thin spears that are the prize of asparagus season. Your goal is to find bright green spears, firm and not wilted.
At home, trim the bottom of the asparagus (the white part) and trim the tiny little stems, and give them a soak in warm water to remove any dirt or sand, then rinse thoroughly.
Place the asparagus in a large pan with an inch of water. Cover the pan to steam on medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until the spears are fork-tender. Don't step away from the kitchen to check your hair or your email while cooking them, they can easily get over cooked, losing their bright green color and crunchiness, which takes away from the whole experience.
Imagine a large restaurant plate with a few spears of asparagus draped dramatically across, with a light drizzle of authentic vinaigrette.
Or toss the tender spears with some al dente pasta and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
More on olive oil's special benefits in "Olive Oil or Advil."
When you have their attention, you can casually lean in and share your knowledge of the nutritional benefits of this special vegetable.
Getting to the Root of Asparagus
Show off your newfound knowledge of the vegetable kingdom by letting your date know that you know about asparagus.
Is your date passionate about traditional or Eastern medicine?
You can intrigue them by revealing that in China and India varieties of asparagus have been prized for their medicinal properties, and that ancient Greeks and Romans used asparagus as a diuretic.
More on traditional medicine: Herb Guide
Does she or he like to read food labels?
Asparagus is a source of folate (a B vitamin), vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin K, as well as protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and potassium.
More on carotenoids: Want to Look More Attractive? Eat Carrots
Or does your date complain about spending too much time in front of the computer?
Break out this gem: Asparagus provide lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known as the macular carotenoids, for the key role they play in maintaining good eye health.
In Michigan, a top asparagus growing state, peak season runs from late April or early May to mid or late June.
Now I'd like to hear from you:
Do you eat asparagus?
How do you enjoy them, plain, in recipes, or in a restaurant?
Have you found any benefits from eating asparagus?
Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.
Share the asparagus love with your friends and family by forwarding this article with them, and sharing on Facebook.
Jonathan Galland is a health writer who created more than 100 recipes for the anti-inflammatory program developed with his father, Dr. Leo Galland, in their book The Fat Resistance Diet. Jonathan is CEO of pilladvised.com, an online resource for the healing concepts of integrated medicine. Connect on Linkedin, join Pill Advised on Facebook, watch on YouTube and subscribe to the newsletter.
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References and Further Reading:
- Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jul;4(8):215-20. "Chemical constituents of Asparagus." Negi JS, Singh P, Joshi GP, Rawat MS, Bisht VK. Department of Chemistry, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal - 246 174, India.
- BBC News Magazine, 21 April 2012, "Asparagus, royalty and the joys of seasonal eating." Stephen Evans
- USDA Agricultural Research Service National Agricultural Library, Nutrient Data Laboratory, Asparagus, www.ars.usda.gov/
- The Fat Resistance Diet: Unlock the Secret of the Hormone Leptin to: Eliminate Cravings, Supercharge Your Metabolism, Fight Inflammation, Lose Weight & Reprogram Your Body to Stay Thin Leo Galland, M.D., Broadway Books
This information is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) or the creation of a physician -- patient relationship. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.