Veggie of the Week: Asparagus

Or should I say ahsparagus? This week’s veggie of the week is none other than asparagus.  Longed for all year round, it is reaching the tail end of peak season but with the crazy weather we’ve all been having we are seeing longer seasons for some produce and shorter for others but I just picked up some tender tasty bundles just this week. 

For the Picking

With asparagus, bigger is not necessarily better as the larger sized spears can be tougher due to increased fiber growth so pick small to medium spears that are firm. The tough, bottom portion of the spear isn’t edible but simply wiggle the spear near the bottom and it will break exactly where it needs to and discard the bottom. Asparagus actually has one the highest cell turnover rate of any living species – who knew? What this means is that it can go bad fast.  To slow spoiling, break the bottoms off just like you would for cooking and put them in a glass of water in the fridge or wrap bottoms in wet paper towel.  

In the Garden

There are over 300 varieties of asparagus, but the most common are green, white, and purple. Growing your own asparagus is a long-term commitment but a worth- while one if you’re rooted where you’re at. It takes 3-4 years before the plants actually produce edible fruit, but it can become one incredible perennial over time as asparagus will sprout for nearly 20 years from the same plant! Throw some seeds in the ground now for years of asparagus to come.

In the Kitchen

Overcooked asparagus tastes terrible so don’t overdo it. I got 3 bundles (for $5!) this week and here are 3 ways to asparagus:

  1. Grilled: Mixed fresh lemon juice from ½ lemon, a splash of olive oil, and minced fresh garlic, covered the spears in it and threw them on the grill.  So delish they were gone before dinner was served!
  2. In risotto: Sliced the spears on the angle and threw them into risotto halfway through the rice cooking time.  I like mine a little al dente so add earlier in cooking if you like it soft.
  3. Steamed: Steamed a batch for a few minutes, chopped, and tossed into a dinner salad.

Produce Profile

A serving of ½ cup cooked asparagus is only 20 calories! It’s also packed with vitamin A and potassium, along with vitamin K, folate, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Funky Fact

People always ask: “Why does asparagus make my pee smell funny?”  This should not be a deterrent to such an incredible veggie as it is not harmful and well, you don’t need to stand around smelling your pee anyway.  This sulfur-y smell occurs because of a compound called methanethiol which is byproduct of asparagus metabolism. Not everybody experiences “asparagus pee”, so it was thought that only some people could metabolize methanethiol.  It turns out; it isn’t a matter of the presence of methanethiol after you eat asparagus, but rather if you can smell it or not. A study found that only some people can smell methanethiol while others cannot which is likely a genetic trait.

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