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Categorized | Diggin' Spring

Asparagus

By Janice Benson, Marketing Coordinator, Michigan Land Use Institute

Spring came early to Michigan this year and thanks to the sunny days and the welcome rain recently, the first spears of asparagus have arrived!

As someone who tried hard to eat as locally as possible this winter, asparagus is a thrilling sight. Though I’ve enjoyed all those root crops these past months, something so green and fresh stirs my soul and I’m anxious to try some new recipes and savor my old favorites that I haven’t tasted since last spring.

The Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board tells us that asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence, so you can’t get too much in the next several weeks! Time to make frittatas, primaveras, soups, and more.

If you’ve got a great asparagus recipe you’d like to share, send it to us. We’re always looking for new ways to prepare the great local foods of this region, and we’ll add it to our online database to share with others who love local food.

So rejoice…’tis the season of asparagus!

Selecting and storing

* Select spears that look moist, firm, and fresh, with compact tips. Ones with larger diameters are more tender.
* Wash thoroughly, pat dry, and refrigerate as soon as possible after purchasing.
* Bundle spears and stand upright in a container of water to maintain freshness.
* Freezing: Blanche spears for one minute in boiling water. Rinse in ice water, then drain and pack in airtight containers, leaving no head space.

Fun Facts

* Asparagus can grow as quickly as 10 inches in one day!
* Asparagus plants will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
* Michigan ranks third in the nation for asparagus production.
* Michigan asparagus is hand-snapped above the ground, resulting in a more tender and flavorful product.

Nutritional Information:

* A good source of potassium, fiber, Vitamins A, B-6, and C, and thiamin.
* Asparagus has more folic acid than any other vegetable!
* Asparagus contains glutathione, an antioxidant that’s key to preventing diabetes.

Cooking:

* Simple preparation: Place in a tall, covered pot with an inch of water. Stand asparagus upright and steam for five minutes. (This cooks the tougher stalks, while lightly steaming the thinner tops.)
Sources/Links:
Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, www.asparagus.org

RECIPE:

Asparagus with Sesame-Soy Dressing
One bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut into 2-
inch pieces
1 Tbsp. soy sauce (lower sodium)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
3 to 4 drops hot chili oil
2 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Instructions:

Bring water in a large saucepan to a boil. Add a tray of ice cubes to a bowl and fill it with water. Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for 2 minutes and no more. Quickly drain the asparagus and submerge it in the ice water to stop it from getting mushy. Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat. Don’t let yourself get lulled into complacency as the seeds stay white for a while. When they start to toast, they do so quickly. Whisk the soy sauce and sesame oil together. Dribble in the chili oil. Drain the asparagus and toss with the dressing. Top with the toasted sesame seeds.
Submitted by:     Dr. Preston Maring, Farmers Market Recipes, Perman

Have you got a recipe?

Got a great recipe that showcases the season? The Cedar Springs Post is building our collection of recipes to share among our readers in the paper and online. Share a recipe using any in-season fruit or vegetable, and we’ll list it on our website! Send your recipe to postnews@charter.net.

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