Cooking with asparagus is easy. It can be eaten raw, chopped into a salad, tossed with pasta, or sautéed into a side dish. The abundant health benefits make this crisp, tender vegetable a nutritious addition to a Senior Citizen’s meal. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The nutrients found in asparagus support digestive and kidney health as well as boost the immune system.
When is asparagus in season in New Jersey?
Fresh, local asparagus starts showing up in New Jersey farmer’s markets in late April. It is abundant throughout May and into June. You can even find pick-your-own asparagus farms across the state.
Selecting and Storing Asparagus
When shopping, select asparagus spears that are not too thick nor too thin. Each sprout should be straight with closed points. For purple or green varieties, look for tips that are darker in color than the stalk. The spears should have a slight woodiness at the ends to prevent the stem from drying out.
Asparagus is more perishable than most veggies. It’s likely to wilt if left in the fridge for more than a few days. Store the spears in a glass of water or wrap the ends in a wet paper towel before putting them in the fridge. This helps prevent them from drying out. Also, do not remove the woody ends until you are ready to use them.
Cooking with Asparagus
There are many different ways to prepare asparagus. You can eat it raw in salads or pasta. However, not everyone likes raw asparagus. Plus, cooking brings out more antioxidants. Remove and discard the woody ends before consuming.
Timing is key when cooking with asparagus—heating it for too long impacts the texture, flavor, and nutrition. Five minutes in the pan is long enough to bring out the bright green color while leaving the inside slightly crisp. For thin spears, limit total cooking time to three minutes.
The best method for cooking asparagus is blanching. Carefully place the spears in boiling, salted water for 1-5 minutes. Then, immediately submerge them in a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process and keeps the shoots tender and slightly crisp. Once blanched, they are ready for roasting, searing, or grilling.
Healthy Spring Sauté Recipe
Sautéing is also a great way to cook asparagus. This easy recipe turns a trip to the farmer’s market into a bright, spring side dish in a matter of minutes. Cutting the asparagus into shorter lengths helps with even cooking. You can adapt this dish to a number of different fresh spring veggies.
- 3 scallions (green onions), sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 TBSP low-sodium broth
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice the scallions and peppers, set aside
- Chop the asparagus into 2-inch lengths
- Heat broth in a sauté pan over medium heat
- Once the broth is simmering, add the pepper slices and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add the asparagus and cook for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat
- Toss with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper
- Serve warm
At Anita’s Angels, Inc., we care about the health and wellbeing of Seniors in our community. We are Families Helping Families. Call to learn how our family can help yours—908-788-9390.