Monday, May 23, 2011

What's in Season? - Asparagus

This week, it’s all about eating in season, which is a great way to ensure we’re getting the freshest produce with the highest nutrient content. On a health and energetic level, eating in season also naturally gives our bodies what they need to adapt to the seasons’ changing temperatures.

One of my favorite vegetables is in season right now and it’s an interesting one: asparagus. While reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I learned about the interesting life of an asparagus plant. Unlike many vegetable plants, asparagus is a perennial, meaning that it grows back every season – for several seasons anyway.

What’s fascinating, though, is that the edible portion that we see only looks that way for about a day. If it’s not cut from the ground, the stalk will grow into a tree about 4 feet tall with lots of branches and needles. Depending on where you're living, asparagus season may have passed or you may still be seeing it.

Interesting as well is that once the stalks are cut from the ground, they begin to decompose as they use its own sugars to try to keep growing. This means that asparagus is best eaten on the day it’s picked, so if you can find it at a roadside stand or a farmer’s market, it’s probably your best bet for tasty spears.

I love it sautéed and sprinkled with lemon juice, fresh garlic and sea salt then added to a salad. It’s also great in egg dishes like frittatas and it makes an amazing creamy soup with sweet potato and onion. And if you want to see the wealth of nutrients in this veggie, look here.

How do you like your asparagus?

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