Hello Springtime! In Croatian the expression Pozdrav means greetings. So – to say it in our language it is Pozdrav Proljece! (Prol-yech-cha). It’s as if Spring is an actual person we greet upon his/her arrival! One of Spring’s great gifts is wild asparagus, with its many asparagus benefits. Today I want to talk about some of the best ways to cook fresh asparagus. By the way, if you don’t have time to read this now, save it to Pinterest and read it later: Pinterest
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When we talk about asparagus, most people are only familiar with the fatter stalks of the domesticated versions, but this wild asparagus produces tinier, thinner and very green stalks, almost bursting with goodness. Besides having an enjoyable walk or hike in nature, there are also many asparagus benefits to improve your health and the health of your family members.
Advice: Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring a water bottle 🙂 I carry the first bunch of asparagus in my left hand as kind of a trophy, but once I find more, they go in a plastic bag with the flowery tip on one end and the strong base on the other. You can actually keep them in the refrigerator for a long period of time (about a week) if you like.
Note: If you happen to be in Croatia in April, and see people (men, women and teens) on the side of the road holding up a bunch of something in their hand, raised out to the passing drivers, it is very likely fresh asparagus. If I don’t have time to go pick my own, I try to buy it from the older people since they are usually living on a very limited pension and every little bit helps.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
The bright-green veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber. Thanks to all these nutrients, asparagus offers some serious health perks.
It’s also good for your urinary tract, and like the artichoke (which will appear in May), it has the health benefit of detoxifying one’s system. Alcohol and fatty foods from winter need to be flushed out.
Asparagus benefits include “manly” things, and many men look for this wonderful vegetable. There is no waste, because asparagus we don’t eat because it is either too tough or woody, is cooked in water to make a really healthy tea.
THE ELUSIVE FRESH ASPARAGUS
Shadows and light in early spring will turn you into a first-class detective.
Some are towering above a bush of some other unrelated plant (like “how did you get here?”) or below a shrub or bush.
That being said, in order to cook asparagus, you will first need to find them. That is part of the fun of it 🙂 A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. Go with a friend and see who finds more, first.
The asparagus plant is a vine, so think telephone line. It can start over here and end up over there. The best clue is to seek out the long spindly shape of the asparagus. The second best clue is to look for asparagus leaves because, where there is smoke there is fire, and where there are leaves asparagus can’t be far.
Another thing I have learned. If you find one, look for another! Sometimes his twin brother is just behind – so look twice.
Asparagus vines and asparaguses themselves turn into the bush – so it’s now or never.
Just like the Lotus blossom which emerges from the dirty, muddy pond, (and not a hotel swimming pool) I often find asparagus in a grassy mess, aka chaos. There must be a message in there somewhere…
WHEN TO FIND THEM
I’ve been told by a Croatian woman (native) that the best time to find them is in the early morning and around 5 pm when the day is starting to turn into dewiness. Just to show you that it can be done, I made a small video. It’s my first ever blog video, so I hope you enjoy it.
Hollwood, here I come.. 😀
….and now for the 6 ASPARAGUS RECIPES
The asparagus benefits are greatest when eaten raw, so don’t forget to add them to a plate of raw vegetables for dipping.
Raw veggies are best, healthiest and most nutritious, but if you like to eat them cooked, and I have looked around, here are the best ways to cook asparagus:
1. ASPARAGUS SALAD
2. SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH ASPARAGUS
3. ASPARAGUS SAUTEED
4.ASPARAGUS – BOILED AND THEN GRILLED
ASPARAGUS – BOILED – this is the basis for many dishes
Preparation: Rinse them gently in the water. From the bottom up, roll up the asparagus until it snaps. This breakage point is where the tough part of the asparagus meets the tender part. Place the tough part into another container; it will be used to make tea.
The tender top sections need to be boiled in salted water, I add garlic, and boil about 1/2 hour till asparagus stalks are softened. You may want to halve the stalks lengthwise to speed up the cooking process. Plenty of water to cover is essential so they keep their light green appearance. Discoloration is caused by oxidation.
1. ASPARAGUS SALAD
Place the cooked stalks in a shallow bowl and mix with salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar, gently so as not to break the tops, and then arrange in a plate with sliced hard boiled eggs for a garnish. I also add capers if I have them 🙂 Very nice for guests or family members, anytime but particularly Sunday lunch.
2. SCRAMBLED EGGS
After boiling (see above), I use scissors to cut them up into bite-sized (i.e. fork sized) pieces. Do not season, simply set them on the side.
I often sautee mushrooms, then add the asparagus sauteed together to make a wonderful base for omelets. You can make asparagus in a blanket (with the scrambled eggs enclosing them).
Another way is to use some of the asparagus broth and mix it with the scrambled eggs mixture then add asparagus pieces inside the omelet, along with a few slices of provolone or Emmenthaler cheese. Sliced tomatoes are a nice side, along with a dollop of Genovese sauce.
If you eat meat, add bacon or ham on the side for a really luxurious eclectic cultural feast.
3. ASPARAGUS SAUTEED
This is another tasty way to go. I love them just as much, but avoid excess oil, try it – you may love it!!
4. ASPARAGUS – BOILED AND THEN GRILLED
This is a nice variation if you are planning to serve them with grilled fish.
5. ASPARAGUS RIŽOTO – Instead of chicken or meat, substitute minced up baby asparagus tips for a yummy vegetarian risotto with cream and parmesan cheese grated on top.
6. ASPARAGUS SOUP – MMM – MMM- GOOD… You need to saute the middle part of the asparagus until it becomes a paste, then smash and add a bit of butter and flour to make a roux. I also add the green Genovese sauce and a fingertip of tomato paste, then half and half. Reserve the tops to be added at the last moment of cooking, it is lovely and delicious.
It’s great weather now, so even if you need a sweater, go out and inhale some of those wonderful natural fragrances in the air.
WORDS OF THE DAY:
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Spring is a great time to make that brilliant new ending!
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