Asparagus is a hit or miss vegetable for me. I love it seasonally and I love it when it is prepared deliciously... who doesn’t?
For me, deliciously means firm yet tender, crispy enough to feel a slight snap with each bite, but cooked enough to eliminate the sometimes ropey or chewy quality that can happen. The taste of asparagus varies slightly with the age of the stem. Young asparagus has a fresh, almost grassy taste, while more mature asparagus stems can taste much more complex even having a hint of bitterness. My favorite way to prepare asparagus is to quickly parboil it, coat it in olive oil and then grill it, either in a grill pan on the stovetop or on an actual grill. This is the best of all worlds, the grassy, springiness of the stem accompanied by the much sought after maillard reaction. Delicious. But then I also love asparagus soup....so I guess, as I said, as long as it’s delicious, I’m game.
This morning’s asparagus was part of an egg scramble. Slightly sauté the asparagus first, add in some eggs, and finish off with some goat cheese. What a lovely way to start the day. (:
From a medicinal perspective, asparagus has quite the history. Initially, it seems asparagus was known as an aphrodisiac, listed in several cultural writings throughout history as early as the 10th century. Although, this is technically scientifically unconfirmed for regular asparagus, in Ayurveda, the “herb” Shatavari (which is a type of asparagus and packed with phyto-estrogens) is used regularly for both men and women as an intervention for reproductive and sexual issues. So, perhaps there is something to the aphrodisiac claims. However, even if there isn’t asparagus has a multitude of other amazing qualities; it’s high in Vitamin K, E, and C, as well as Folate, Beta Carotene, and Selenium. It has great antioxidant properties and helps decrease oxidative stress. It’s high in fiber and can help regulate blood sugar. It’s also packed with Oligosaccharides, which are considered a prebiotic and helps to populate the colon with healthy bacteria.
Oh, and that crazy after effect that we all know about??? It’s caused by Asparagusic acid, which is a compound of chemicals that contain sulfuric components; all perfectly harmless even if slightly stinky.