The larger the diameter, the better the quality so look for firm stalks with closed tips and store your asparagus in the fridge with the ends wrapped in a damp paper or cloth towel. Raw, steamed, blanched, sautéed or roasted, consume your asparagus within 48 hours of purchase.
While these fleshy spears are valued for their tender texture and succulent taste, asparagus also packs quite a nutritional punch. It's loaded with fibre, vitamins and minerals, is extremely low in calories at about 20 per serving (five spears), has no fat, and is low in sodium.
Check out these three health benefits of eating asparagus!
- High in anti-inflammatory nutrients. Since inflammation is an important risk factor in Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, the anti-inflammatory nutrients like asparanin A, sarsasapogenin, protodioscin and diosgenin in asparagus can help prevent the development of both of these diseases.
- Rich in the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione, sometimes called 'the mother of all antioxidants', is a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. In doing so it helps protect your skin from sun damage, helps prevent cancer and slows the aging process!
- Natural diuretic. The asparagusic acid in asparagus, which is responsible for the 'asparagus pee' smell, also helps the body rid itself of excess salt and fluid and helps detoxify the kidneys. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body's tissues) and those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.
Did you know that asparagus is best cooked upright? Like all plants stems, the stalk can be tough and fibrous. The more delicate bracts clustered at the tip are much more tender and are easily overcooked. To cook the two parts evenly, it's best to arrange the stalks upright in boiling water so that the stalks are submerged while the tips gently steam above the water's surface. There are special asparagus cookers designed for this purpose.
Asparagus Mushroom Tart
1/2 package of vegan puff pastry
1 Tbsp vegan margarine
1 small onion, minced
1/2 pound of asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces with 3-4 left long for garnishing the top of the tart
8-10 mushrooms, sliced some reserved for decorating the top of the tart
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp herbes de Provence
3 Tbsp. dry white wine
1/2 package of Zengarry Garlic and Fine Herbs Cashew Cheese
1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out puff pastry to a size to fit your tart pan. Spray your tart pan with a little non-stick spray. Lay your puff pastry in the tart pan and tuck in the edges.
Add margarine to a preheated non-stick frying pan. Add onion, chopped mushrooms, asparagus, garlic and herbs de Provence and sauté on medium heat until the vegetables soften (about 10 minutes). Deglaze the pan by adding wine and mixing well until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Turn the heat down to low and add Zengarry Garlic and Fine Herbs Cashew Cheese and salt. Mix well and remove from heat.
Spread your cheese mixture into the puff pastry shell and garnish with reserved asparagus spears cut in half lengthwise and mushroom slices.
Brush the top of pastry and tart with a bit of melted margarine and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.