“Good asparagus needs minimal treatment and is best eaten with few other ingredients.”

Yotam Ottolenghi

I love asparagus, as a kid I hated it.  So it’s not surprising that my children freak out when I mention putting an asparagus shoot on their plate.  They are pretty good with carrots and broccoli, but refuse asparagus. Which means there is more for me! One day they will learn what they’ve been missing, but until then I will enjoy all of the asparagus. I love it it in soup, salads, pasta dishes and just as a simple side. 

Asparagus is also very healthy for you, as most green vegetables are.  Asparagus shoots are low in calories but high in nutrients, making them such an ideal side to any meal. Asparagus contain large amounts of antioxidants that protect your cells from stress and carcinogens. Asparagus is full of fiber for your digestion system. 

Asparagus is super important if you are trying to conceive or early in your pregnancy. It’s a rich source of Folate (B9) which prevents major birth defects in your baby.  Getting enough folate from sources like asparagus, or most green vegetables and fruit can protect against neural tube defects, including spina bifida. 

Asparagus contains potassium, which can help lower your blood pressure. “In addition, animal research has found that asparagus may contain an active compound that dilates blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.” according to Healthline. 

Asparagus Nutritional Values

Half a cup of cooked asparagus contains:

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 2.2 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Fiber: 1.8 grams
  • Vitamin C: 12% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 57% of the RDI
  • Folate: 34% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 6% of the RDI
  • Phosphorous: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E: 7% of the RDI

Asparagus also possesses small amounts of other micronutrients, including iron, zinc and riboflavin.

The classic method for cooking asparagus is steaming, which is always reliable. But here is an alternative that I think intensifies the asparagus flavor even more.

Asparagus is in season in the Springtime, but now anytime is asparagus time. If you’ve got the itch to fire up the bbq, this is a great way to scratch that itch. On the other hand, if there’s still six inches of snow on your BBQ, this is also excellent in the oven.

Buying Asparagus

Select asparagus that is bright green and crisp. Avoid asparagus whose precious tips have been damaged, or the stalks are discolored or rubbery. Suit your own taste, whether you like pencil-thin or thicker spears. You may need fewer than the recipe calls for if you use the thick stalks. The key to grilling is that they are a consistent thickness, so they cook at the same rate.

Where the store is selling them by the pound, feel free to (carefully) pull them out of the bundles to buy only what you want.

I like to clean and store asparagus as soon as I get home from the grocery store.  I put them in a jar with a bit of water and store them upright in the refrigerator.

Prepping Asparagus

Rinse the asparagus spears. Snap off the woody end of the stalk. Grasp the stalk in two hands and bend. Asparagus is smart. It “knows” where to break. Discard the tough ends or better yet, save them for soup or another purpose. Some recipes call for peeling the stalks with a vegetable peeler. This should only be necessary if your asparagus has a tougher skin.

Healthy Mom Blog 2021 - Asparagus Recipe and Health Benefits

Grilled (or Roasted) Asparagus Recipe

(serves 4)

You will need: (for grilling) gas or charcoal BBQ grill -or- (for baking) a baking pan large enough to hold all the asparagus in a single layer.

24 asparagus spears

2-3 Tbsp good olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (a generous sprinkling)

  Squeeze of lemon (optional)

1. Preheat the grill to medium-hot (or the oven to 500 degrees F).

2. Lay the asparagus in a flat-bottomed rectangular pan or casserole. (This can be the baking pan if you are employing the oven method.)

3. Sprinkle on the olive oil and roll the spears around in it until well coated.

4. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper; roll the spears around again, so the spices are fairly evenly distributed.

For the grill:

1. Lay the spears on the hot grill in a single layer, cross-wise to the grate.

2. Grill, rolling once or twice, until they begin to color, 8-12 minutes for thin spears. This can vary a lot depending on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the spears.

3. With tongs, remove the cooked spears immediately to a serving platter.

For the oven:

1. Distribute the spears in a single layer in the baking pan.

2. Roast until the spears begin to color, 8-12 minutes for thin spears.

3. With tongs, remove the cooked spears immediately to a serving platter.

These are wonderful served on their own with a garnish of lemon wedges if you like. On the other hand, if you are feeling irresistibly saucy, melted butter, mustard, mayonnaise (weird right?  But when I was researching this, people kept mentioning it), or hollandaise are all good candidates. Another good option is a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or maybe almonds.  My grandmother loved red pepper flakes and lemon pepper seasoning on hers.

One last word of caution, if you’ve never eaten asparagus. Your pee will smell a little different the day after eating it.  It’s no cause to phone the doctor.  It’s normal, weird but normal

“Scientists believe the odor in question is due to two chemicals: methanethiol and S-methyl thioester. When enzymes in the human digestive tract break down the asparagusic acid that’s naturally present in the vegetable, these volatile compounds are created. When voided from the body, they become foul-smelling gas, wafting up from your asparagus pee.”

From The Conversation

“A few stems of asparagus eaten, shall give our urine a disagreeable odour.”  

Benjamin Franklin 1781