Asparagus: Properties, Benefits, And 5 Easy Recipes

Discover the benefits of this superfood and five easy-to-make asparagus recipes like cream soup or oven baked chicken
Discover the health benefits of this vegetable as well as a multitude of asparagus recipes

 

Asparagus, or garden asparagus or sparrow grass, Asparagus officinalis, is a perennial flowering plant in the genus Asparagus. Its young shoots are used as a spring vegetable, both the green and the white ones.

Aside from having a delicious taste, asparagus is an extremely healthy plant with many health benefits which is why it's a popular choice in cuisines around the word as well as in homemade remedies. 

We will introduce the properties and benefits of green and white asparagus, as well as list five easy-to-make recipes that you can enjoy at home.

Main types of asparagus

The word asparagus comes from the Persian word  “asparag” that means “shoot.” 

The asparagus plant has underground stalks that give life to the surface stalks which we know as shoots. This last part of the plant is edible - and it carries the name of asparagus.

Generally speaking, there are two main types of this plant: white asparagus and green asparagus (also called wild asparagus). In reality, all the different types belong to the same plant; the difference is their exposure to light. 

White asparagus is green asparagus that has never seen the light of day. The plant is grown under the soil to block out the sun's rays, preventing photosynthesis and the development of chlorophyll, which turns the spears green.

Aside from the shoot, the asparagus plant has white flowers and red fruits which resemble small berries that are poisonous for humans. 

Properties and benefits 

Among the primary health benefits of asparagus, we can mention its high content of water as well as no sugars and fats. Other health features include: 

  • Minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, iodine, potassium, iron and magnesium 

  • Vitamin  A, B and C

  • Fiber

  • 21 calories per 100 gr raw asparagus

The asparagus stock resulted from boiling the shoots and roots is effective for detoxing the liver and kidneys, as well as relieving the effects of dry coughs while the seeds have diuretic properties.

On the other hand, vitamin A, or beta carotene, has important health benefits such as maintaining healthy vision and strengthening the cellular tissues. The iron contents contribute to blood formation, and without it, we can experience fatigue and anemia. 

Asparagus is also known for its weight control properties due to its zero fat content which is why it is often recommended in weight loss diets. 

How to cook asparagus? 

Asparagus is an easy to cook vegetable and it can be used in many recipes from soups to salads to meat dishes. In the following excerpts, we will list 5 delicious asparagus recipes that you can enjoy anytime. 

1. Grilled asparagus

There's nothing quite like perfect grilled asparagus. It is the most simple side dish, but it also has incredible flavor when done right. To make this basic yet nutritious recipe you will need: 

  • 1 kg asparagus stalks trimmed
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

First, heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Toss asparagus lightly in oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Lastly, grill, turning occasionally, until tender and charred, 3 to 4 minutes.

Enjoy as a side dish with meat, with dipping sauces, or mixed in salads. 

2. Asparagus cream soup

This refreshing asparagus cream soup will be enough for 4 people, and we will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 bundles of fresh asparagus
  • ½ leek
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ l of water
  • ½ lemon 
  • salt to taste

First, trim the stalks and cut the asparagus in small bits saving aside the tips. Cut the leek into small bits as well. 

Then, in a pot, place one tablespoon of olive oil and add the leek once it's simmering. When the leek changes its color, add the asparagus, the water, and salt. Leave cooking for 8 min, then remove from fire and set aside some of the stock in case you want to thin out the creme. 

Lastly, put the mixture of asparagus and leek into the blender and mix until you reach a creamy consistency. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice. Add some of the stock in case the coup is too thick; you are now ready to enjoy a delectable asparagus cream soup. 

Asparagus cream soup is an easy to make and incredibly healthy recipe

 

3. Asparagus salad with capers

This easy-to-make asparagus salad with capers is an ideal choice for those who follow a low-fat diet. The ingredients that we will need for this salad are:

  • 2 bundles of asparagus
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • ½ cup of low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp of capers
  • salt to taste 

First, wash and trim the asparagus, cut in sections of 2 cm long and boil for 5 minutes in salt water. After they are done, immediately transfer to ice water for 1 minute to stop the cooking process.

Next, grate the carrots and while the asparagus is boiling, peel the potatoes, chop in small cubes, and boil in salt water. Once they are done, place on a plate and set aside. 

Then, remove the asparagus from the iced water and mix with the grated carrots and place on top of the potatoes. Add the capers and dollops of mayonnaise to top off your salad. Enjoy!

4. Salmon and grilled asparagus

Asparagus is an excellent side dish for (white) meat and fish. For this deliciously easy recipe that serves 4 people we will need the following:

  • 600 gr raw salmon 
  • ½ cup sherry wine
  • butter
  • sea salt
  • garlic
  • dill

In an oven-safe dish, spread butter mixed with garlic. Add the pieces of salmon, the sherry wine, salt to taste and leave on medium fire for 20-30 minutes.

Next, add butter in a pan and once its hot, drop the asparagus in and salt to taste. Grill asparagus until charred and dark green, turning occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and serve on a plate. 

Finally, remove the salmon from the oven and place on the plate next to the asparagus and garnish with dill. Enjoy this juicy asparagus and salmon recipe!

Grilled asparagus is an ideal side dish for meat and fish recipes

 

5. Oven-baked chicken and asparagus

This asparagus recipe is excellent for a low-fat diet, and we will need the following ingredients:

  • one chicken
  • 12 asparagus stems - we will only need the tips
  • 3 medium potatoes - chopped in small cubes
  • 3 carrots - roll cut 
  • 1 onion - sliced 
  • 1 garlic
  • ½ l of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • non-stick vegetable cooking spray

First, cut the chicken in several parts (4 or 8) and place inside an oven pot you have previously sprayed with non-stick vegetable cooking spray.

In the same pot, add the onion, garlic, and saute lightly. After this is done, add the chicken and cook on all sides. Cover with stock until the chicken is halfway submerged. 

Next, add the potatoes and cover the pot. Place the pot in the oven and cook at medium heat for 25 minutes. 

In the meantime, put the asparagus tips and the grated carrots in a pot and cook to a simmer. 

Finally, serve the chicken with the asparagus and carrot mixture as a garnish, add olive oil and salt to taste. Enjoy!

Growing asparagus

To grow asparagus from seed, you must first soak the seeds for 3 to 5 days before sowing them. The total germination period could take between one and three growing seasons, including the time it takes for the roots to grow, the tall stalk and finally the shoots to come out.

This last stage of the growth process can last up to one month, although typically, the first harvest is done after three years from cultivation. 

Fertilizing the asparagus is done annually and irrigation depends on the season of the year: during warmer periods frequent watering is required, while less water is needed at the beginning of autumn. 

Use a special, round-bladed knife to cut the plant spears, in such a way that you don't damage the rest of the plant. Asparagus is best grown in cool climates with deep and sandy soil, although it is a resilient plant that can cope with any type of plant. 

Below, you can see a short video on how to grow your own asparagus bed. 

 

Check out the original article: Espárragos: virtudes, beneficios y recetas con espárragos at viviendolasalud.com

References:

Casalins, E. (s/a). Cocina para diabéticos, 100 recetas exquisitas dulces y saladas. Ediciones Lea: Buenos Aires

Hoffman, P. (2005). Herbolaria y nutrición natural: la salud al alcance de todos. Editorial Pax: México.

Lafond, J. (2006). Recetas 0% colesterol. Buenos Aires: Edris.

Oliver, J. (2015). The ultimate guide to asparagus 

Pérez, S. y Cerezo, J. (2015). Recetas de fiestas. House Grupo Editorial: Barcelona.

Pisani, N. y Adams, K. (2016). Sopas detox. Recetas caseras para limpiar tu cuerpo. Grijalbo: Barcelona.

Steward, M. (2006). Asparagus tips and how to plant asparagus

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