NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Springtime Asparagus

Springtime Asparagus


             Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is a vegetable we often associate with springtime as this is the time of year that the delicate asparagus spears appear in our grocery stores.     Asparagus is prized for its tasty spears which are often not harvested for the first three years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.  Once in place though, a sturdy crown can send up a spear which may grow 10" in a 24-hour period.

         Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. It also has no fat, no cholesterol and is low in sodium which puts it at the top of the “best vegetable” list.

          A typical 4-5 oz. serving of asparagus provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Folacin has been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, that cause paralysis and death in 2,500 babies each year.

     Keep fresh asparagus clean, cold and covered. Trim the stem end about 1/4 inch and wash in warm water several times. Pat dry and place in moisture-proof wrapping. Refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days for best quality. To maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand upright in two inches of cold water.

      For such a nutrient sturdy vegetable, asparagus requires gentle handling during cooking.  Steaming in a double boiler is the preferred method – a not so modern glass coffee percolator works well as you can stand the spears on end.  Or try using a medium depth frying pan – line the pan with a strip of double thickness aluminum foil, fill 2/3rd full of water, bring to a boil and then add the asparagus spear.  Cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and use the foil strip to move the fragile spears to a serving dish. 

          For an oven baked version, try the following recipe with a hint of garlic.


Oven Roasted Asparagus with Cheese & Garlic

            Cooking spray      

1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed

           ¼ C. shredded Parmesan cheese

             Salt to taste

            ¼ - 1/2tsp. garlic powder


                Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).  Spray the inside of a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Place asparagus in the dish and lightly spray spears with cooking spray. Sprinkle asparagus with Parmesan cheese, salt, and garlic powder. Roast in preheated oven until fork easily punctures thickest part of stem, about 12 minutes.

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