Asparagus is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Even more important in my opinion, it’s rich in fermentable fiber. Eating a variety of non-starchy vegetables and fruits, specifically those known to be high in fermentable fiber, adds to the diversity of bacteria in the gut which gives many health benefits. You can read more about this in “The Resolution Zone” by Dr. Barry Sears.
What we know: Asparagus is actually the shoot of a perennial flowering plant. In years past it was typically harvested in the spring but it’s now available fresh all year round. I was surprised to learn recently that one asparagus plant can produce shoots for approximately 20 years.
I’ve included some tips here and a couple of easy delicious ways to enjoy asparagus. Both of these dishes can be put together in 10 minutes or less. Think of them as starting points rather than recipes. The asparagus is the star of the show here. Feel free to make these dishes your own by changing up the flavors and spices you add. There’s no right or wrong way. Have fun with it!
Tips for fresh asparagus
- Store as you would cut flowers by trimming off the end and standing it up in a glass or jar containing about an inch of water. Cover the top with plastic and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.
- Wash with a quick rinse under cold running water and pat dry with a towel.
- Before using remove the tougher woody part at the lower end of the stalk.
Scrumptious Raw Asparagus Salad
This one’s got a lot of crunch, a little heat, and a fresh bright flavor. I make it all on a large cutting board for easy cleanup. To turn it into a meal, add some lean protein on the side and a bowl of strawberries for dessert.
- Bunch the raw asparagus shoots together on a large cutting board and chop on a slant. I prefer thin shoots cut into small bite-sized pieces.
- Sprinkle desired amounts of freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and finely grated Parmesan onto the asparagus.
- Add some roughly chopped walnuts, toasted if you like.
- Zest some lemon with a Microplane (yellow skin only, not white) and add it on top.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of it all and drizzle with olive oil.
- Give it a quick toss lightly on the board with one hand. Using a spatula transfer it to a serving plate.
Balsamic Asparagus, Feta, and Cherry Tomatoes with Zone Orzo
This dish came together several years ago from what happened to be in my fridge at the time, and it’s a keeper. Have cooked Zone PastaRx Orzo on hand in the fridge for a quick meal anytime.
- Place raw asparagus shoots on a cookie sheet covered with foil. Foil makes clean-up easy. Season with S&P and drizzle with olive oil.
- Place it under the broiler and watch closely. Remove when it begins to brown (about 4-5 minutes for narrow shoots).
- Flip the shoots over and put them back under the broiler for another minute or two taking care not to burn them.
- While the asparagus is under the broiler, heat some cooked Zone PastaRx Orzo on a dinner plate in the microwave.
- Place the asparagus, some halved cherry tomatoes, and some crumbled fat-free feta on top of the orzo.
- Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Serve immediately.