Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Veggie of the Month: Asparagus

Some interesting tidbits about asparagus:
  • Asparagus was so popular in ancient Egypt that there are paintings of the vegetable in tombs
  • With asparagus growing up to a rate of up to 1 inch per hour, asparagus must be harvested daily to prevent over-growth 
  • Asparagus is full of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K as well as antioxidants and carcinogenic fighting compounds 
  • The Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus, used to yell in Latin, “Faster than cooking asparagus” to his troops which translates to “get going already!” Romans were so obsessed with asparagus that there were even Asparagus fleets where fast runners would bring the asparagus back as quickly as possible to the cities 

Asparagus Pesto: Although typically thought of as a basil dish, pesto simply means paste in Italian and asparaguses offer a healthy alternative to an Italian favorite. Serve this NY Times recipe over fish, chicken, or pasta.

     1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch segments
     1 clove garlic, or more to taste
     ¼ cup pine nuts
     ¼ cup olive oil
     ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
     Freshly ground black pepper
     Juice of 1/2 lemon

     Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the asparagus and cook until fully tender but not mushy, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well, reserving some of the cooking liquid, and let the asparagus cool slightly.

     Transfer the asparagus to a food processor and add the garlic, pine nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, Parmesan, a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, and gradually add the remaining oil and a bit more of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten if necessary. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste, pulse one last time, and serve over pasta, fish or chicken