Asparagus season is here and it's a bumper crop. Over the last few weeks I have enjoyed it simply roasted with olive oil a twist of black pepper and sea salt flakes or raw in salads with olives, chervil and lemon dressing, the season is not long so enjoy these tender spears whilst you can.
Asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable. It is also a good source of potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione, a powerfully protective phytochemical.
Asparagus also contains the carbohydrate inulin. Unlike most other carbohydrates, inulin doesn't break down in the small intestine but passes undigested to our large intestine. Once in the colon it becomes an ideal food source for the beneficial bacteria that live in the colon, these bacteria bring a myriad of health benefits.
Whilst most of us associate green as the color of asparagus it also can be white or purple. White asparagus is actually green asparagus that has been grown in the absence of sunlight by covering them with soil or domes so they remain pale white. These spears are very tender with a mild flavour but for me it seems rather uneccessary and not very kind to the plant in any case this variety lacks chlorophyll which makes it of less nutritional value than green or purple asparagus.
Purple asparagus has a fruitier flavour than green asparagus, anthocyanins, health promoting phytonutrients give the asparagus its purple colour. This variety of asparagus has less fibre and is very tender and delicious raw.
Here to tempt you is a Spring recipe from Living Food – A Feast for Soil & Soul
Quinoa with Asparagus & Spring Herbs
12oz (350g) asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions finely sliced
3 leaves of lovage finely shredded
8 oz (225g) quinoa (source UK grown available from from Hodmedod)
16 oz (450ml) vegetable stock
1 large handful of herbs – parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil, rocket, fennel– whatever you have, roughly chopped
1oz (25g) butter or splash of olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Break the coarse ends off the asparagus and compost.. Cut off the tips and plunge them into boiling water for 30 seconds. Strain, (save the liquid for a soup or use as part of the stock that is needed in this recipe) and refresh the spears in cold water. Set aside. Cut the stalks into 1 cm pieces.
Bring the stock to the boil season if necessary with salt and pepper
In a thick bottomed pan gently cook the onions in the oil, when they have softened add the lovage asparagus stalks and quinoa, stir well then pour on the stock and allow to cook for 15 minutes, by which time the quinoa should be cooked and all the liquid absorbed.
Remove from the heat and stir in the asparagus spears, herbs and butter or olive oil.
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