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April Vegetable of the Month: Asparagus

The April Vegetable of the Month is Asparagus!

Asparagus is a stalk-y vegetable that is both nutritious and delicious! It has the potential to grow super fast—up to 10 inches a day—and with all its nutrients, your children may just have a healthy growth-spurt of their own! Once they experience the crunchy, subtly-sweet taste of asparagus, they’ll be coming back for seconds!

Asparagus is a Great Source of:

  • Iron—to make red blood cells, muscles, and carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • Fiber—a needed nutrient to stay “regular.”
  • Antioxidants—for a boost to the immune system!
  • Vitamin K—aiding bone and brain health
  • Copper—for healthy red blood cells and nerve cells.

Did You Know?

  • Asparagus is a vegetable that grows wild. You just have to know which ditch or other grassy area to look in!
  • Asparagus is a perennial, which means, when taken care of, it will continue to come back year after year!
  • The asparagus was once a delicacy for the Greeks and Romans.
  • Asparagus is part of the Asparagaceae family, making it a cousin to onions, garlic, tulips, and even daffodils!”
  • After you eat asparagus, it has the potential to make your urine smell a little strange! Don’t worry, it’s completely normal and the odor will go away!

How to Harvest and Store Asparagus

When harvesting or shopping, choose asparagus stalks that are firm and even in color—avoid stalks that are wilted and dry. Both thick and thin stems of asparagus are okay to eat! Whether you picked your own asparagus or bought it from the store, you’ll want to rinse it with water when you get home. To store, trim the bottom of the stalks (optional) and set inside a glass with 1–2 inches of fresh water. Cover with a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 days.

Tips to Get Children to Eat Asparagus

  • Make finding asparagus an adventure! If you grow asparagus in your garden or know a local spot where it grows in the wild, let your children help harvest! They’ll be much more excited to try the veggie once it’s cooked if they’ve lent a helpful hand!
  • The flavor and texture is most liked when asparagus is cooked briefly and still has a little bit of a crunch to it!

Ways to Eat Asparagus

  • Sauté
  • Steam
  • Boil
  • Grill
  • Roast

Let’s Get Cooking

Sautéed Asparagus with Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ tbps. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped (or ½ tsp dried)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Ice water

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, bring 2 inches of water to boil with salt. Prepare ice water, set aside.
  2. Add asparagus to boiling water, cook for 4–5 minutes, until barely tender.
  3. Remove spears from the water, and place in ice water to cool. Once cool, drain the water, and set the asparagus aside.
  4. Heat oil over medium-high heat in the skillet. Add mushrooms, asparagus, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook until mushrooms are wilted and asparagus is heated through (about 3–4 minutes). Serve warm or chilled.

Asparagus with Gremolata Souce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon peel, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, large, minced
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice, fresh

Directions

  1. Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling water until tender, about 4 minutes
  2. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool quickly
  3. Pat dry and wrap asparagus in a paper towel, then plastic wrap and refrigerate
  4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat
  5. Add lemon peel and garlic and stir for 30 seconds
  6. Add asparagus and toss to coat
  7. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté until asparagus is heated through and coated with the Gremolata sauce (butter, lemon peel, garlic, and lemon juice), about 3 minutes
  8. Transfer to a plater and serve.

 

For more creative asparagus-based recipes visit MyPlate Kitchen! With so many possibilities, like Grilled Asparagus and Shrimp Quinoa Salad, Pasta Primavera, and Spring Vegetable Sauté, you’re sure to find something that is tasty for the whole family!

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, MyPlate Kitchen, Nutrition and You

 

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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