Selecting Fresh Asparagus:
Look for asparagus with firm, straight, rounded, green stalks.
Tips should be small, closed and dark green or purple in color.
Select asparagus that does not have a strong odor.
Choose a bunch with similar sized stalks so they will cook evenly.
Avoid asparagus with woody stalks.
Measuring Fresh Asparagus:
1 pound = 16-20 spears = 3 cups trimmed = 2½ cups cooked
Handling and Storing:
Wrap a wet paper towel around the bottom of asparagus stalks and store in a plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator away from light.
Asparagus should be used within 1-3 days after purchasing for best flavor.
To freeze: wash asparagus and trim off the ends. Put up to 1 pound in boiling water for 2-4 minutes, quickly put stalks in a bowl of ice water for 3 minutes. Drain and put divided portions of asparagus into separate freezer-safe bags; press air out, seal, date and store for 8 or 9 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.
Preparation and Serving:
Gently scrub asparagus under cool running water to remove any dirt. Trim off the ends or bend each stalk until it breaks at the brittle point. Cut into bite sized pieces or leave whole depending on what your recipe calls for.
Asparagus needs to be cooked quickly, to a tender-crisp texture.
It can be steamed, boiled, baked, roasted or grilled. Try tying the bunch together when steaming or boiling to make it easier to remove from the pot. If your recipe calls for cold asparagus, plunge it into ice water for 20 seconds after cooking (do not let them soak in the water).
If you decide you love asparagus and want to cook it all the time, you might think about buying a special asparagus steamer, which steams the tips to perfection while it boils the thick stalks.
Enjoy asparagus alone or in a light sauce, roast it with other vegetables, or add it to stir-fry, salads, omelets, casseroles, and soups.
Nutrition Facts: one serving = 1/2 cup boiled asparagus: Calories 20, Protein 2 grams, Carbohydrates 4 grams, Sugar 1 gram, Fat 0 grams, Fiber 2 grams. Asparagus is also an excellent source of Vitamin K and folate and a good source of thiamin and vitamins A and C.
Material funded by USDA SNAP. USDA is an equal opportunity provider. 13
SNAP provides food information, call 1-888-369-4777
eferences: http://southernfood.about.com/library/info/blequiva.htm, http://nutritiondata.self.com /facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2312/2, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname= foodspice&dbid=12#purchasequalities, http://homecooking.about.com/od/howtocookvegetables/a/ asparagustips.htm, http://www.ehow.com/how_2885_choose -asparagus.html, http://www.bellaonline.com /articles/art9291.asp, http://www.veg-world.com/articles/asparagus-1.htm
Veggie Frittata $$
1 pound thin asparagus
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 small zucchini
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
5 large eggs
1/4 cup half & half
1½ Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish (3-quart).
Trim asparagus and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Cut bell peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips, and mince shallots. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and cut diagonally into thin slices.
Have a bowl of ice water ready. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water blanch asparagus 1 minute and drain in a colander. Immediately transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus well in colander and pat dry.
In a large skillet cook bell peppers and shallots in butter over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened, about 7 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in asparagus, bell pepper mixture, and zucchini. Pour custard into baking dish and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown and set, about 35 minutes. Cool frittata on a rack. Serve warm and enjoy!
Approximate Pricing Scale
$ = less than $15 $$ = $15-$20 $$$ = $2-$25