Asparagus is an edible and herbaceous perennial plant that dies back in the fall and the delectable spears will return year after year. It is a member of the lily family. Asparagus can be green, white or purple depending on where and how they are grown.
The Dutch, German and French delicacy, white asparagus; Italian purple asparagus; or green asparagus?
Green and white asparagus are the same plant. The only difference between them is how they are grown. White asparagus does not take a sun bath. The stalks are covered either with plastic or soil and therefore never exposed to the sun like green asparagus is. The spears remain milky white. Since it grows underground, white asparagus is more labor-intensive than green. It is only available for a few weeks.
Northern Europeans like white asparagus because it is sweeter and more tender than the green asparagus. However, the outer layer of white asparagus can be hard and fibrous, so you need to peel it before you cook it.
Green asparagus stalks are picked after they break through the soil. Their spears grow above the soil, exposed to the sun,
which means they photosynthesize, so they develop chlorophyll which makes the plants green.
Purple asparagus is from the Albenga region in Northern Italy. The color comes from the high levels of anthocyanins in the spears. Anthocyanins are strong antioxidant flavonoids that have protective and preventative health benefits, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Health benefits of asparagus
Asparagus offers many nutritional benefits. Asparagus is high in fiber. Asparagus is cholesterol free and anti-inflammatory.
Asparagus has A, C, E, K and B9 (folate) vitamins, as well as phosphorus, potassium, zinc, manganese, selenium and protein.
It helps in lowering blood pressure, aids digestion, and is good for eye and hair health.
It is also especially rich in glutathione, a detoxifying compound that can help destroy carcinogens. For this reason, asparagus may help fight or protect against certain cancers, including bone, breast, lung and colon cancers.
Since ancient times, asparagus has been famous as an aphrodisiac.
How to cook asparagus?
You can try various cooking methods with asparagus -- baking, roasting, steaming, grilling.
My favorite way of preparing asparagus is by pan grilling it or baking it in the oven. I love it as pasta topping as well. It is irresistible with their sweet and scrumptious spears.
Here is my favorite recipe for you:
2 cloves minced garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice (optional as dressing)
Preheat the oven to 180C for 15 minutes.
Place your asparagus stalks on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray.
Mix all other ingredients except lemon juice in a bowl.
Generously season the asparagus with the mixture.
Put tray in oven and roast about 20 minutes or until tender but keep an eye on your asparagus as it can quickly burn.