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Varieties

Asparagus can be found in green and white varieties. Green asparagus is the most common in the United States, while the white is more popular in Europe. White asparagus is grown under the soil. This does not allow the sun s rays to penetrate the plant, and therefore it does not produce the chlorophyll necessary to produce the green color. When eaten raw, white asparagus has a sweet, nutty taste.

Selection

Choose firm yet tender stalks. For the green variety, choose stalks with deep green or purplish tips that are closed and compact. Avoid excessively sandy spears. Stalks with a narrow diameter are more tender than thick ones.


Storage

Store stalks, with bottoms wrapped in a damp paper towel, in the crisper section of the refrigerator; if you don t have a crisper, put them in plastic bags and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It is best to eat asparagus the day it is purchased, because the flavor lessens with each passing day.


Preparation and Cooking


Wash asparagus in cool running water. Snap off tough ends at their natural breaking point. Before cooking white asparagus, it first must be peeled so that no skin remains. This can be done using a potato peeler. White asparagus needs to be cooked until completely tender, while the green variety can be stir-fried, lightly steamed or cooked in the microwave.

Recipes

Spaghetti with Spring Vegetables
Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

5 medium tomatoes
1/4 pound small asparagus
1 medium zucchini
1/4 pound small white mushrooms
1 large red and/or green sweet pepper
5 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound spaghetti

Peel, seed and dice tomatoes. Wash asparagus and cut tips off stalks. Wash and dry zucchini and mushrooms, cut into thin slices. Wash pepper and cut into short thin strips. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add pepper strips and saute over medium heat 5–6 minutes. Add onion, zucchini, asparagus tips, and mushrooms. Sautè 4–5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cook uncovered over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in parsley and garlic. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Cook spaghetti; drain and place in a warm deep dish or bowl. Pour sauce over spaghetti. Serve immediately.

This is an official Fruits & Veggies—More Matters recipe.

Recipe provided by Jeanette Mettler Cappello.

Nutrient analysis per serving: Calories, 450; fat, 13 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; fiber, 5 g; sodium, 16 mg; percent calories from fat, 27%.


Cooked Asparagus

Raw Asparagus
Serving Size 1/2 cup cooked (90g) Amount Per Serving  % Daily Value*
Calories 20  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 15mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
  Dietary Fiber 2g  7%
  Sugars 1g  
  Protein 2g 
 
Vitamin A 20%
Vitamin C 10%
Calcium 2%
Iron 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Serving Size 1/2 cup raw, sliced (67g) Amount Per Serving  % Daily Value*
Calories 15  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
  Dietary Fiber 2g  7%
  Sugars 4g  
  Protein 1g 
 
Vitamin A 10%
Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 2%
Iron 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

This vegetable is sometimes referred to as the aristocrat of vegetables. Many Greeks and Romans not only appreciate asparagus for its taste but also believe it possesses medicinal properties from alleviating toothaches to preventing bee stings. Such things are mythical, but asparagus does contain a good supply of vitamins and minerals. Asparagus appears in markets as early as February, but the peak of this crop s season is in April and May.
Benefits of Asparagus
Asparagus contains chemicals that help to remove wastes from the body including those caused from smog, cigarette smoke, and other nasties in the body.
Additionally asparagus has a lot of great nutrients. This leads back to studies that suggest diets that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are less likely to have carvings.
There is also some evidence that the chemicals in asparagus help to break down fat which in turn makes it easier for you to lose weight and to get rid of fat deposits.
Finally, asparagus promotes growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive track which in turn promotes healthy digestion.
Asparagus