March 2017…Jousting allowed–with an asparagus spear that is! Jab it into your favorite dip, roast it, or use it in a “veggie flower pot arrangement.” Nothing says springtime like asparagus. It is one of the earliest spring vegetables to make an appearance in the grocery stores and tables everywhere for springtime holiday celebrations. Asparagus is grown in sandy soil so washing it well is a must.
According to the website fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org, you should choose odorless stalks with dry tight tips, which can be stored up to 4 days in the refrigerator by wrapping the ends in a wet paper towel, and storing in a plastic bag.
When you are ready to use the asparagus, cover it with water in a bowl and gently shake to remove all the sandy soil. Rinse thoroughly. Cut off the white part and then lightly peel the ends with a vegetable peeler. After you’ve prepped them, you can:
Eat ‘em raw!
- Dip them into your favorite salad dressing or hummus.
- For a party or springtime celebration, create a fun edible veggie flower pot arrangement by adding prepared raw or blanched asparagus spears to a variety of other colorful vegetables like green beans, carrot sticks and strips of different colored bell peppers. (Blanching means very lightly cooking them by placing them in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes then placing in cold water to stop the cooking process. Serve right away or refrigerate for later. Serve cold.)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place prepped spears in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.
- Lay the asparagus spears on baking sheet.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and sprinkle with 1-2 Tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
- Roast for 8-12 minutes. The asparagus is ready when it is tender and a nice bright green color.
However, asparagus isn’t just green….there are white and purple varieties too!
–By Amy Deahl-Greenlaw, registered dietitian nutritionist