How to Cook Asparagus In a Few Simple Steps
Also referred to as “sparrow grass”, asparagus is packed full of incredible goodness that can have a huge range of benefits on the body. Not to mention that its unique taste often finds many fans in all kinds of cuisine. Yet, you will often find that many people would consider asparagus too much of a delicacy to be used in day-to-day meals.
In fact, the opposite is true. With its ability to absorb many flavors, as well as being one of the best-priced vegetables on the market, asparagus lends itself well to almost any meal. Read on to find out all about this fantastic veggie and all of the goodness it brings, as well as how to cook your asparagus for some delicious, wholesome meals.
Asparagus Nutritional Information
As you can imagine from a vegetable related to onions, leeks and garlic, asparagus is packed full of nutritional goodness. Medical News Today reports that just one cup of raw asparagus contains:
- 27 calories
- 16 g of fat
- 2 g of carbohydrate
- 88 g of sugar
- 8 g of fiber
- 95 g of protein
- 32 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 87 mg of iron
- 19 mg of magnesium
- 52 mg of phosphorus
- 202 mg of potassium
- 2 mg of sodium
- 54 mg of zinc
- 7 mcg of vitamin K
- 51 mcg RAE of vitamin A
- 70 mcg of folate
- 5 mg of vitamin C
- 192 mg of thiamin
As well as all this, you’ll find that sparrow grass is packed full of vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, and potassium. All of the components listed above come with their own benefits, but we’ll focus on the best nutritional benefits in our next section. You should also be aware that how you cook asparagus has an affect on the overall nutrition of your serving – with some methods of cooking preserving the goodness found in asparagus much better than others.
Benefits of Asparagus
Packed with the good stuff, asparagus is credited with lowering the risk of lifestyle-related health issues, such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. It’s also possible that the increased folate can help lower the risk of depression, by stopping the formation of homocysteine from developing and being absorbed by the body.
The higher levels of folate are also associated with the prevention of some cancers in the body, such as breast cancer. Meanwhile, the increase of this vital nutrient has also been proven to help support fetal development – especially in the early months of pregnancy.
How to Cook Asparagus
There are three, main ways to cook asparagus – what is best is based entirely on your preferences. Each style has a different taste and texture, so you can decide the best way to cook asparagus for your household needs.
The first is what is known as the “Blanch and Refresh”. This is very common in restaurant meals, as it helps to preserve the bright green coloring of your vegetables, while retaining their natural flavors. For this, you’ll need a bowl full of ice cubes, a pan full of boiling water, your asparagus and a sieve/colander or slotted spoon.
- Place your bowl of ice cubes to one side, ready to be used.
- Plunge the uncooked asparagus into the pan of boiling water.
- Leave for 1 or 2 minutes, depending on how soft you prefer your vegetables.
- Remove the asparagus using your sieve, colander or slotted spoon.
- Immediately place the asparagus into the ice water
- Store this in the fridge until just before serving. Then, when you’re ready, you can drain the ice water and reheat the asparagus in a pan, with a little butter for added flavor.
The second is a little simpler, but adds a great, grilled flavor. If this sounds more like your style of cooking, then try the griddle instead.
- Turn your pan onto a high heat.
- Coat your asparagus with a little oil of your choice – olive oil is usually preferred by many.
- Place the asparagus into the pan and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Cook until tender or a little al dente, depending on your preference.
- You can test the readiness of your vegetable by lifting one spear out of the pan. If you notice the sparrow grass bending slightly, it is done.
You can also boil your asparagus, which simply requires placing in boiling water for 10-15 minutes until you have the same, tenderness as grilling. This can be rather bland, and the boiling water can negate some of the healthier parts of the cooking – however, if you’re looking to add your asparagus to a more flavorful meal, this can be a much-preferred method. As well as being an easy, quick method of cooking asparagus.
The final way is let your asparagus remain uncooked. Since raw asparagus comes with the best nutritional benefits, it’s not uncommon to use it in salads or even as a garnish. Simply remove the outer skin (which is often too tough to eat without cooking), before using a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons.
Easy Asparagus Recipes
- Asparagus Fries
After chopping off the tougher ends of your asparagus, coat your spears (about 20 in total) in flour before adding them to a beaten egg – the same way you would before creating fried chicken. Then dip these in parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs before placing in an oven for 20 minutes on a high heat, turning halfway through.
- White Asparagus with Poached Egg and Ham
Packed with nothing but healthy ingredients, you’ll find that this delicious meal is a quick and easy way to meet your nutritional intake for the morning. Simply peel your asparagus with a potato peeler to get rid of the tougher exterior, before boiling in salted water for 10-15 minutes (depending on your preference).
Meanwhile, slice up your ham and place an egg in boiling water with a little salt and pepper. Your food should all come together at around the same time. For added flavor, add a great sauce such as chive dressing or a lemon vinaigrette.